The impact of COVID-19 on community health services

Gain an understanding of the NHS community sector’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4 August 2020

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This report highlights the NHS community sector’s pandemic response and its critical contribution with hospitals and local partners to prevent the service from becoming overwhelmed during the first peak

Community health services entered the COVID-19 pandemic at a time of significant challenge. Demand for care in the community outstripped capacity largely due to a growing and ageing population and an increasing number of people living longer with complex health needs.

This was exacerbated by funding constraints on the NHS and local authorities and workforce pressures, including shortages in several key professions. In addition, despite being the cornerstone of effective, preventative and rehabilitative care, and central to the vision set out in the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), the community sector is more vulnerable than other parts of the NHS to the disruption wrought by repeated re-tendering of services.

This report captures the community sector’s response during the pandemic and showcases the achievements of community providers and their staff. It seeks to learn from community providers’ experiences of the pandemic to secure much-needed transformation for the longer term and makes a number of recommendations for support from government and the national NHS bodies to enable this.