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There's a hidden crisis threatening lives alongside Covid-19: the lack of routine treatment

6 42 177
17.06.2020

Hannah can’t stop vomiting. The 22-year-old has Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, a complex disability that means she has intestinal failure and uses a feeding tube – and now has a blockage in her bowel. Surgery is her only option, but she’s been told she’ll have to wait eight months to have it because the NHS is focused on the coronavirus pandemic. Hannah has already been on the surgery waiting list for nine months and her condition is worsening: she’s in severe pain and is vomiting most days as she increasingly can’t keep food down.

Hannah doesn’t blame her doctors. “If you had two fires and one consumed a detached house, and the other was rampaging through a packed terrace, and you had limited resources, what would you choose?” she says. But she is “extremely disillusioned” with the government for leaving patients like her stranded during the pandemic.

If Hannah doesn’t have the surgery soon, she tells me, her bowel could rupture. “I fear that many people in my position will die due to a shortfall in care.”

This is Britain’s second public health emergency: the crisis that is quietly threatening lives alongside coronavirus. The government has spent recent weeks boasting that they have managed to protect the NHS during the pandemic, but what they’ve really done is shut it down. Almost two-thirds of Britons with common........

© The Guardian