The Nuffield trust has published a new briefing document, Resuming health services during the Covid-19 pandemic—what can the NHS learn from other countries?
The report explains that the UK entered the pandemic with higher occupancy rates and fewer doctors, nurses, and capital assets than most other health systems, and consequently will be more stretched in its efforts to resume non-COVID care. Although waiting times in the UK for non-COVID care are currently average among the health systems analysed, the report asserts that the strain imposed by the pandemic on overstretched, poorly resourced services will have serious implications for waiting times in the UK.
The report also notes that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in healthcare provision, disproportionately impacting deprived communities and Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups. The economic resources allocated to the response to COVID means that there is a risk of these inequalities becoming entrenched.
The report notes: ‘While the trajectory of the NHS’s recovery will be determined heavily by its position at the start of the pandemic, it is not set in stone. There is now an opportunity to learn from and sustain positive changes the service has made in response to the pandemic and for government to work across sectors to redress the inequalities that threaten system recovery and sustainability.’