MORE than 3.5million Brits had hospital treatment cancelled as the first wave of Covid hugely disrupted the NHS, a report reveals.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said one in six adults aged over 50 – 3.6million people – were hit by cancellations from February to May.
A quarter of patients who needed to see a GP also failed to do so, as surgeries increasingly relied on video and phone consultations.
Those who lived in more deprived areas, were in poorer health and those who were eldery were most likely to be adversely affected.
The think tank says the delays were caused as health chiefs prioritised Covid patients and tried to stop the bug spreading on wards.
It warns an urgent plan is needed as England enters a second lockdown to ensure care is maintained and the backlog cleared.
Some 24 per cent of people who reported needing to speak to a GP did not do so, the poll of 6,615 over-50s suggests.
Four in ten (43 per cent) of these tried to see a GP but were unable to do so and the rest did not even try to get an appointment.
Further, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of those who reported needing community health and social care did not get it.
Isabel Stockton, from the IFS, said: “Many older people have seen their healthcare disrupted during the pandemic, and the burden has disproportionately fallen on those who were already disadvantaged and in poor health.
“As we move into another lockdown, it will be crucial to ensure access to routine care is maintained as much as possible and that a plan is in place to address care backlogs built up in the first few months of the pandemic.
“Without this commitment, we risk entrenching existing health inequalities for years to come.”
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