Less than 1% of doctors feel NHS is well prepared for coronavirus, poll shows

Common concerns include bed shortages and not enough staff

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 03 March 2020 00:03 GMT
Doctors have raised concerns in a survey over the NHS's ability to deal with a coronavirus outbreak in the UK
Doctors have raised concerns in a survey over the NHS's ability to deal with a coronavirus outbreak in the UK

Less than 1 per cent of doctors feel that the NHS is “well prepared” for the new coronavirus, according to a new poll.

Eight out of the 1,618 respondents said they believed the health service was ready to deal with an outbreak when asked by The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), despite the prime minister’s insistence that the NHS will cope if it is hit by a surge in the number of people falling ill.

Common concerns included difficulties coping with increased demand, a shortage of beds and poor staffing levels, according to the group who led the poll.

Some doctors asked said they were worried that there could be not enough laboratory space to do testing in the case of a pandemic.

Others claimed that NHS 111 had been giving out “inappropriate advice” to go to A&E and GP practices, according to DAUK.

“The NHS has already been brought to its knees and many frontline doctors fear that our health system simply will not cope in the event of a Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak,” Dr Rinesh Parmar, the DAUK chair, said.

“Many hoped the threat of Covid-19 would prompt an honest conversation to address the issue of critical care capacity and our ability to look after our sickest patients. By simply saying ‘the NHS is well prepared to deal with coronovirus’ it seems that yet again doctors’ concerns have been brushed under the carpet.”

The findings come after the number of people infected with the coronavirus which rose to 39 in the UK on Monday.

Boris Johnson has warned that the country could see thousands of cases to come.

The government will announce its “battle plan” to combat the virus on Tuesday, which includes bringing newly retired medical staff back to work.

Dr Jenny Vaughan, Law and Policy lead at DAUK, raised concerns over plans to use retired doctors, suggesting it was an “ill-thought out” idea.

“The virus has a higher mortality in older persons,” she said.

She also called upon the chancellor to find a “long-term solution to the NHS pensions tax crisis”, which resulted in doctors taking an early retirement in the first place.

The global death toll from coronavirus has surpassed 3,000, with over 80,000 people being infected worldwide.

Countries are taking strict measures to reduce the risk of the virus’ spread, including banning large public gatherings.

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