That the national lockdown had a terrible impact on the nation’s health in ways other than the direct impact of Covid-19 is becoming clearer by the day. Just how bad was it? According to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, delayed and cancelled treatments will cause an extra 281 to 344 deaths from breast cancer; for colorectal cancer it will be an extra 1445 to 1563 deaths, lung cancer 1235 to 1372 deaths and oesophageal cancer 330 to 342 deaths.
A University of Leeds study estimated that there have already been an extra 2,085 deaths from heart disease and stroke as a result of people not accessing timely medical help, while a study by the University Hospital of Northern Tees reveals that the number of endoscopies – used to investigate and diagnose bowel cancer – fell to just 12 per cent of their normal level between 24 March and 31 May.
According to the Office for National Statistics, an extra 25,472 people have died at home than expected from the average of the past five years. Some of them, no doubt, would have died even had they reached hospital, but not all. Meanwhile, the NSPCC has reported that calls to its helpline averaged 8,287 in May compared with 5,593 in early March, as children were shut away at home with their abusers
That is just a few of the effects of lockdown, and of poor messaging which led to many people failing to seek medical attention – against which the number of lives potentially saved by lockdown will eventually have to be balanced.