Lung and heart disease diagnoses fell by up to HALF during pandemic fuelled by lack of GP appointments – but ‘tone deaf’ doctors say they need MORE money to get in-person appointments back to pre-Covid level

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  • Incidence of COPD – a group of lung diseases that cause difficulty breathing – 51% lower in 2020 than in 2019
  • 26% less diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that increases risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Heart failure and diabetes fell by a fifth amid fears of tens of thousands worsening

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Chronic disease diagnoses in England fell by half last year, partly influenced by fewer GP appointments during the pandemic, official figures revealed today.

Chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of lung diseases that can cause breathing difficulties – was down 51 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

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The number of patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, dropped by 26 percent, followed by heart failure and diabetes, both of which dropped by a fifth. There was also a 17 percent drop in cases of coronary heart disease, the report found, and a 16 percent drop in strokes.

Reports from the U.S. Department of Health and the Office for National Statistics show that tens of thousands of fewer people received a late diagnosis, putting their condition at risk of worsening. It claimed that this trend was likely partly due to a ‘decrease in general practice activity’.

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The figures came as the president of the doctors’ union British Medical Association (BMA) said patients were wrong to think that they received ‘worse care’ as a result of a lack of individual counseling during the pandemic.

Dr Richard Voutray, head of the BMA’s General Practitioners’ Committee, claimed that GP surgery needs more funding to bring face-to-face GP appointments back to pre-pandemic levels.

The timing of his comments was dismissed as ‘tone deaf’ by the Adam Smith Institute thinktank, stating: ‘It shows the BMA does not want to see the problem and does not want to see the real solution.’

NHS figures show that around 23 million fewer face-to-face GP consultations were done in the first wave of the Covid pandemic alone, as NHS services and practices were encouraged to move to virtual settings and fears of the virus ahead of Brits were more reluctant to come. .

As well as missed diagnoses, the shutdown of NHS services during the pandemic allowed waiting lists to rise to record highs, with 5.6 million people now waiting for routine operations.

Boris Johnson has pledged a manifesto-busting £30bn to the NHS over the next two years to help clean up the vast backlog. But Dr Voutre said ministers were ‘not investing in common practice as seriously as they need to’.

The lack of GP appointments during the pandemic led to a drop in diagnoses of chronic diseases by up to half last year. The incidence of chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of lung conditions that cause difficulty breathing – was 51 percent lower in 2020 than in 2019, a damning report from the Department of Health found. The number of patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, dropped by a fifth, followed by both heart failure and diabetes. There was also a 17 percent drop in coronary heart disease cases, the report found, and a 16 percent drop in stroke

The report also found that thousands fewer people were admitted for cancer during 2020, warning that 'delays in these treatments are likely to result in poor health outcomes for patients'

The report also found that thousands fewer people were admitted for cancer during 2020, warning that ‘delays in these treatments are likely to result in poor health outcomes for patients’

It found that children under the age of 11 had the most sustained decline (23 percent below the four-year average) in GP appointments.  The 11 to 19 age group also saw a sharp drop (13.4 per cent), most evident when the lockdown restrictions were in place.  Among older people, the effect was less significant, with consultations falling by 7.6 percent in 2020 relative to the four-year average.  But that still translates to millions of missed consultations.

It found that children under the age of 11 had the most sustained decline (23 percent below the four-year average) in GP appointments. The 11 to 19 age group also saw a sharp drop (13.4 per cent), most evident when the lockdown restrictions were in place. Among older people, the effect was less significant, with consultations falling by 7.6 percent in 2020 relative to the four-year average. But that still translates to millions of missed consultations.

Today’s report on missed diagnoses was submitted to the government on September 9, but was made public today as part of scientific and public health reports used to guide ministers through the pandemic.

It found that children under the age of 11 had the most sustained decline (23 percent below the four-year average) in GP appointments. The 11-19 age group also saw a sharp drop (13.4 per cent), which was most evident when the Covid lockdown restrictions were in place.

Among older people, the effect was less significant, with consultations falling by 7.6 percent in 2020 relative to the four-year average. But that still translates to millions of missed appointments.

The report also found that thousands of fewer people were admitted for cancer during 2020, warning that ‘delays in these treatments are likely to result in poor health outcomes for patients’.

Meanwhile, MailOnline’s analysis of NHS data yesterday found, as well as alternative treatments and GP appointments, more than a million emergency hospital admissions were ‘lost’ to the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 5.45 million emergency procedures were performed across all NHS England services in the 12 months to March, down 16 per cent from the previous year at 6.5m.

NHS digital figures include admissions for A&E, mental health, maternity and even dental patients, showing how the pandemic affected every corner of the healthcare system.

In the 12 months to March 5.45 million emergency procedures were performed across all NHS England services, down 16 per cent at 6.5m the previous year.

In the 12 months to March 5.45 million emergency procedures were performed across all NHS England services, down 16 per cent at 6.5m the previous year.

The number of patients awaiting routine hospital treatment reached 5.6 million in July, the highest figure since records began in 2007. And health chiefs have warned that the backlog is about to get worse before it gets better, with estimates it could rise to 13 million by the end of the year if no action is taken.

Patients forced to wait more than 18 weeks for routine surgery – the maximum time one must wait under the NHS’s own rules – rose to 1.7 million in July, the highest level…

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