Statement on ‘Getting the NHS Back on Track: Planning for the Next Phase of Covid-19’
We strongly welcome the NHS Confederation report 'Getting the NHS back on Track: Planning for the Next Phase of COVID-19'. The report outlines challenges and suggests changes that will be required as the NHS prepares to restart a wide range of services after the first phase of COVID-19.
In particular, we welcome:
- Plans to manage hospital capacity sustainably. The report recommends management of the backlog of treatments by putting in place an ongoing arrangement with the private sector to boost capacity.
This may mean that developing COVID-free pathways in NHS hospitals becomes easier and more sustainable. Without the extra help of the independent sector and Nightingale hospitals it would be almost impossible to have the capacity to keep safe, COVID-free spaces. However, we are concerned that this arrangement may not give staff the time they need to recover.
- The report’s call for a review of the effects of burnout and wider wellbeing issues across the NHS and the focus on improving mental health support.
In our view, wellbeing of all staff has to become – and remain – a priority.
- The call to focus resources on care provided outside hospital settings.
We agree with NHS Confederation that social care and care delivered in community settings will continue to play a key role in the long-term dealing with COVID-19 and should be supported accordingly. In our opinion, health and social care need to be integrated to allow patients to move smoothly between the two and receive the most appropriate care and support.
- The management of public expectations needed in the next phase, with clear and consistent communication from political leaders that recovery to pre-COVID-19 activity levels will take many months.
We agree and believe it is right to start a conversation with the public around what the health service can and can’t do.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge amount of pressure on the NHS and completely changed the way it functions"
Association President Dr Kathleen Ferguson commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge amount of pressure on the NHS and completely changed the way it functions. As the pandemic becomes more under control, the focus is on the NHS of the future and the ways in which it may look different to the NHS of the past. The Association of Anaesthetists – as a membership organisation representing the largest group of hospital specialists who have delivered immediate care throughout the pandemic – looks forward to engaging in planning for the implementation of these key recommendations as we re-adjust and reform our NHS to deal with the challenges we anticipate facing in the near future, such as winter flu and a possible second wave of COVID-19."