More than 3.5million over 50s missed out on hospital treatment during lockdown

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Older people, those living in more deprived areas, and those with worse self-reported health were most likely to experience a postponement or cancellation of their care, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found. Almost a quarter of those reporting that they needed to speak to a GP did not manage to do so, its findings showed.

Among those who contacted a GP, those with worse prior health were twice as likely as those in excellent health to be unable to access their GP when needed.

The study showed that 13 percent of those who reported “poor” or “fair” health failed to see a GP when attempting to do so, compared with just 6 percent among those in “excellent” health.

In addition, 14 percent of those requiring GP care across all health categories did not even attempt to contact them.

Almost three-quarters of those who reported needing community health and social care, did not get it.

More than a third of those who needed these services did not seek help in the first place, with an additional 41 percent of would-be users unable to access the service after contacting it.

Those living in the most deprived areas were also more likely to be affected: among those who tried to access community and social care services, 46 percent of those in the most deprived areas did not get access compared to 38 percent of those in the least deprived areas.

Isabel Stockton, a Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and a co-author of the study, said: “Many older people have seen their healthcare disrupted during the pandemic, and the burden has disproportionately fallen on those who were already disadvantaged and in poor health.

“As we move into another lockdown, it will be crucial to ensure access to routine care is maintained as much as possible and that a plan is in place to address care backlogs built up in the first few months of the pandemic. Without this commitment, we risk entrenching existing health inequalities for years to come.”

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