Thousands of doctors in England have expressed little or no confidence in the National Health Service being able to cope with pressures this winter, according to the latest survey by the British Medical Association, which is also known as the BMA.
The association representing doctors in the United Kingdom surveyed more than 6,500 doctors in England, with more than 70 percent being either not at all or not very confident about the abilities of services in community settings to cope. Some 65 percent said they were not confident about their local healthcare service's ability to cope.
The survey also revealed that "65 percent of doctors are quite or extremely anxious about work in the coming months and more than 40 percent say their levels of stress, anxiety, and emotional distress had got worse since the pandemic began".
And doctors are skeptical about the effectiveness of the restrictions aimed at curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus, with less than 6 percent saying they will have any significant impact and 37 percent saying they will have no impact or be ineffective.
Chaand Nagpaul, council chair of the BMA, said: "Doctors know that this winter is likely be one of the most difficult times of their careers. They are extremely worried about the ability for the NHS to cope and their ability to care for the needs of their patients.
"These survey findings show the enormous scale of the challenges for the NHS in the coming months, and they reinforce the BMA's call for a national and strategic approach to getting this virus under control."
Around one in five doctors say they are seeing more COVID-19 patients than they did at the same point during the first wave, and 28 percent have found non-COVID-19 demand higher than before the pandemic.
The survey shows there is a backlog of millions of patients who did not receive treatment during the first peak, and only around one-quarter of doctors reported starting to tackle the backlog.
Nagpaul said: "Doctors are doing their best to keep patients safe, with seven in 10 saying they are providing remote consultations to prevent the spread of infection in hospitals and GP practices. But with this work often taking longer and proving more tiring, it's clear that over-work and under-capacity is taking its toll on the NHS, its workforce, and its patients."
The survey also revealed deep concern relating to patient care. Sixty-five percent of doctors say staffing shortages are their most pressing concern, and four in 10 report colleagues having to self-isolate owing to COVID-19 infection affecting patient care.
According to the findings, doctors are concerned about their personal health and wellbeing (60 percent) and their ability to cope with caring for non-COVID-19 patients (58 percent). Forty-four percent are most worried about plans to manage the huge backlog of patients.
Nagpaul pointed out, as waiting lists continue to grow and more beds are needed by those with COVID-19, the second wave could be devastating for patients, the health and social care service, and those working in it.
"Large numbers of doctors across England have little faith that the government's current 'Tiered' lock-downs will have any significant impact on controlling the virus," she said before the full national lockdown was ordered. "Instead, of a few short weeks of suppression, bringing economic and emotional misery for those in the areas affected, we need a national prevention strategy that has a lasting impact and gets growing infection rates under control across England."