The pandemic has had an enormous impact on health and care services in the UK. In this article, Nuffield Trust fellows Jessica Morris and Sarah Reed take a closer look at access and waiting times before and after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. They highlight that before the pandemic, pressure on the system was already reducing access to NHS services and making waiting times longer. Covid-19 has made the situation significantly worse due to the need for heightened infection control practices, rising levels of staff sickness and burnout, the cancellation of routine care and redirection of staff. Enabling services to recover will be challenging given these ongoing pressures and real-term budget cuts for the NHS this year.
The article examines the impact of the pandemic on waiting times relating to:
- General practice
- Elective (planned) care
- Diagnostic testing
- Cancer care