The NHS and social care system in the UK are under immense strain, and this is increasingly causing harm to patients. This is seen in the current crisis in urgent and emergency care, but is present throughout the system. This BMJ article looks at a collaborative document produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) and the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM). The document highlights key actions and priorities that may help mitigate part of the crisis facing the NHS. As part of these recommendations, the authors call on the UK governments to increase and prioritise investment in primary care, social care, mental health and ambulance services.