16 February 2021
COVID-19 delays cause increased pain & mental health symptoms for people with arthritis
A new Arthritis Action survey looking at the impact of delays caused by COVID-19 on people living with arthritis, has highlighted a huge backlog of treatments that were affected by the pandemic. The survey suggests that around 1in 4 (23%) people living with arthritis have had their operations cancelled or postponed, with over a third (35%) not being told how long they have to keep waiting.
With surgery waiting times already lengthy for many, the pandemic has led to further delays, with many patients either not knowing their new surgery date (65%) or having to wait a further 7-12 months (21%) for much-needed surgery to help them cope with the debilitating pain and disability caused by arthritis. Of those who have had their surgeries delayed or cancelled, 7 in 10 (70%) are experiencing worse pain than previously, while over half (54%) have noted increased mental health symptoms.
As well as urgent surgeries being delayed, regular GP and hospital appointments have also being delayed or completely cancelled during the lockdown. The new survey results show people are currently having to wait an average of 5.5 more months for regular appointments than before the pandemic. As a result, 59% of people who have had an appointment cancelled or delayed are now experiencing worse pain than previously, while over half (51%) are reporting worsened mental health.
Recent NHS data around surgery delays released on 10th December supports our new research – at the time, Trauma and Orthopaedic surgery was the worst affected specialty, with 6% of people in that category (representing 12.9% of all patients recorded) having waited for more than a year, and 42% who have waited more than 18 weeks.
For more information: Visit our COVID-19 advice hub for more information and resources on how to look after your physical and mental health during the ongoing pandemic, including resources and further advice, ideas and tips on continuing to manage your arthritis during this time.