By Brooke Warner, Maria Wasag, Simone Limbu and Sophia Wright
A whopping 5.6 million people are on the waiting list for treatments under the NHS, the NHS website has revealed, making Islington locals fear for their future.
In its Guide to NHS Waiting Times, the NHS claims that the maximum period of time a patient can wait for consultant-led treatment is 18 weeks, with urgent cancer referrals only two weeks. But some people say they are waiting a lot longer.
“Nearly one in 12 people on NHS waiting lists have now been waiting more than a year for care,” said David Maguire, Senior Analyst at the King’s Fund.
In addition, if the hospital or service “cancels your operation at the last minute (on or after the day of admission) and for non-clinical reasons, they should offer another binding date within 28 days or fund your treatment at a date and hospital of your choice”, the NHS says.
Uber driver Abdula Omar said that recently he suffered from such severe stomach pain that he decided to phone his GP for advice. “I only had a telephone appointment, as the GP couldn’t see me face to face,” he recalls.
Soon after, the pain got so bad that Omar was forced to go to A&E, resulting in him being diagnosed with appendicitis, for which he had to have immediate surgery.
“I was glad to go to A&E as it could have turned into something very serious,” he said.
Alternatives to the NHS
Sam Hassan, dispensary technician said: “During the pandemic the GP closures and no appointments made everyone come here for advice and medications.”
Hassan, who has been working throughout the pandemic, added: “Right now the cold season is back and people are coming in with the uncertainty of the GP.”
The Magic Leaf is a shop that offers herbal remedies on Holloway Road. Michael, who works there and did not want to give his surname, said that often “people come in for pain, with some doctors suggesting people go holistically”.
The Magic Leaf remained open throughout most of the pandemic. Many people came in because they were “stressed or depressed and people were trying to find a solution”, Michael said.