Ben Anderson, Rotherham Council’s director of public health has complied a new report, which details “profound changes” to everyday life, health and wellbeing caused by the pandemic.
Mr Anderson states that the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 is unlikely to be known for many years, but outlines a widening gap in health inequalities in Rotherham.
Mr Anderson found that available GP appointments decreased by 14 per cent in 2020 from 2019, but in 2021 GP available appointments were “slightly above 2019 levels”.
In 2019, just nine per cent of GP appointments in Rotherham were undertaken by phone or virtually, which had increased to 39 per cent in 2020
The number fell to 31 per cent in 2021 as GPs reintroduced face-to-face appointments.
However, a report by Healthwatch Rotherham found that residents reported difficulties in obtaining GP appointments as the pandemic progressed, with one survey respondent saying that GP service access is “practically impossible”, having called their GP surgery 55 times with no response.
The Healthwatch report, released in October 2021, found that patients were left feeling “frustrated and unsupported”, and recommended that GP surgeries give patients a choice of how they access services, offer more out-of-hours appointments, and optimise staffing levels and staff training.
As of end August 2021, the number of Rotherham CCG patients on the referral to treatment waiting list was 22,982 – a 28 per cent increase from August 2019 when there were 17,886 patients waiting for treatment.
During the same time period 255 patients had been waiting over 52 weeks, including some patients who chose to delay their treatment following theCOVID-19 outbreak.
In Rotherham, 83 per cent of patients were waiting less than 18 weeks for treatment, compared to 67 per cent nationally.