Responding to the Nuffield Trust’s report Resuming health services during the Covid-19 pandemic: What can the NHS learn from other countries?, Dr Layla McCay, director of international relations at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare system, said:
“The NHS’s position at the start of this pandemic was far from strong given its significant staffing vacancies, insufficient capital funding and under-investment in public health, all of which make delivering healthcare services a challenge, even in normal times.
“International comparisons are always illuminating. Thankfully in this country, we have not experienced the terrible scenes of intensive care beds being filled to capacity, or insufficient ventilators in hospitals, as we have sadly seen elsewhere in Europe.
“The fact that the NHS has coped as well as it has so far is a testament to the efforts of those working across the system but this has come at a cost and its impact will be felt for a very long time.
“We are now heading towards a very difficult winter period with an exhausted workforce and with a backlog in care that goes into the millions, while preparing for the ongoing possibility of a second wave of coronavirus.
“Our country will not be alone in facing these challenges but only our Government can address them for us, in collaboration with local leaders.
“We need the Government to monitor and learn from what is happening overseas, to continue to give the NHS whatever it needs and to be realistic about what it can safely deliver.
“Also, while other countries have faced similar challenges to ours, it is striking that the presence of coronavirus over here has not been as focused to capital cities as it has elsewhere. Once again, this highlights the need to have an effective test and trace system that is consistently robust across the whole country. Worryingly, the data continues to show that ours is not.”