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14.05.20

Five key areas identified ahead of restarting NHS services

A joint letter from the Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust has been delivered to the Health and Social Care Select Committee identifying five key aspects which need addressed ahead of their evidence session on delivering core NHS and care services during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on April 22, 2020 that the pandemic had reached its peak and talked of his intention to ‘gradually reopen’ the NHS as soon as it was safe to do so.

For the joint authors of the letter, before any services look to begin being restarted key areas need addressed including a reliable supply of PPE to protect staff and a clear understanding within the system of the full extent of unmet need – particularly important as at present, from a big picture view, it is not clear how many services have been suspended.

The joint letter puts five key questions to the Select Committee to address:

  1. How and when will appropriate infection prevention and control measures be available for all settings delivering care, and what impact will these have on capacity to reopen?
  2. How will the system understand the full extent of unmet need?
  3. How will the public’s fear of using NHS and social care services be reduced?
  4. What is the strategy for looking after and growing the workforce?
  5. Can the system improve as it recovers?

Concluding their joint letter, which can be read in full here, the author organisations acknowledge the significant shock to the system caused by Covid-19 and continues to be the case. In their eyes, that makes it between difficult and impossible to simply ‘switch back on’ NHS services the same as they were running pre-February 2020 and will require careful planning and tough decisions in the coming months.

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