NHS Confederation warns that the number of people waiting to access NHS services could rise to 10 million by the end of the year

16 June 2020

Liaison Group

The NHS Confederation has warned that the pandemic could see the number of people waiting for NHS treatment rise from 4.2 million to 10 million by the end of the year. In a report, Getting the NHS Back on Track, Planning for the Next Phase of COVID-19’, it outlines the key challenges that organisations will face over the coming months with suggestions for policy changes that will be required as the NHS prepares to restart a wide range of services.

The report recognises that recovery in the NHS will be slow, as it manages both sick and recovering COVID-19 patients, maintains social distancing, and restarts essential treatments, and warns that the government will need to manage expectations on this recovery in order to retain public confidence and support.

One of the recommendations within the report details the need for: “An ongoing focus on digital technology that maximises use of capacity (for example, to enable remote working for socially isolating staff who could still provide remote consultations to support patients waiting for follow up or information on elective procedures)”, in order to minimise further delays as the pandemic continues across the UK.

The report also calls for:

  • An extension of emergency funding across all sectors of the NHS, given significant extra demand across all services.
  • Putting in place an ongoing arrangement with the private sector – a vital requirement to provide capacity to respond to the backlog of treatment.
  • A review of the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS and social care workforce given the unprecedented pressure that staff have been under.

Liaison Group CEO, Andrew Armitage, says: “There can be no doubt that COVID-19 has put an inordinate and unrelenting amount of pressure on NHS staff, and we hope that the implementation of the measures made within the NHS Confederation’s report will help to both ease that pressure and look at new ways of working in order to avoid waiting times to access the NHS’s services nearing 10 million people in the next six months.”

Find out more on the NHS Confederation website.