A new campaign from the NHS Confederation and its partners has forecast a ‘triple whammy’ of issues in the winter due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The NHS Reset Campaign, part funded through sponsorship by Novartis UK, identified that the service is facing not only local outbreaks and a second surge of coronavirus, but it must also manage a backlog of treatment that has built up during the pandemic.
In addition, the campaign reports that staff working within the NHS are already ‘exhausted’ from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic during its first peak, with no likely respite before winter.
The campaign involved six months of engagement with health and care leaders including a new survey of 250 NHS leaders, which results in the identification of five key findings that should be integrated into the service.
This includes managing public expectations about what is possible with regards to a ‘return to normal’ for the service, as well as the need for extra funding to cover the additional costs of rising demand.
In addition, the campaign found that nine in ten leaders believe there must be more flexibility and freedom for local NHS bodies to listen to and co-produce local services with patient groups and communities. NHS leaders also stressed the importance of integrating health and social care to enable services to be transformed.
Finally, the campaign also points to how COVID-19 has both highlighted and exacerbated health inequalities, stressing the need for changing how the NHS cares for diverse and marginalised communities.
“COVID-19 has been the biggest disruptor in the NHS’s history. Out of necessity, it has transformed patient services in ways previously unimagined and changes that would usually take years have been delivered in weeks,” said Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation.
“This is the moment for government to grasp the nettle, be bold and invest in a health and care system not just for this winter but for the long term. It must be reimagined in a way that lets local leaders deliver services that work for everyone in their communities,” he added.