The NHS is working at full pelt while preparing for future challenges

06 May 2021

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, was on the Today Programme this morning to discuss pressures on the NHS and efforts to clear the care backlog. See below a summary comment:

"The NHS is still working at full pelt.

"That includes continuing to go full speed to deliver the most successful COVID-19 vaccination programme in the world, treating the most urgent delayed cases in areas like cancer care as fast as we can, and tackling other pandemic-related issues such as long COVID and a spike in mental health demand.

"And looking to the longer term, we're rapidly developing a multi-year plan to tackle the very large care backlogs that have been built up as a result of COVID-19. That includes looking at some exciting innovations to speed up that process.

"But the next stage of the change is probably going to be more difficult because it'll need to be more far reaching and enduring.

First, we've got to reconfigure the NHS to cope with COVID-19 for the medium term.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"There are three tasks we've got to do. First, we've got to reconfigure the NHS to cope with COVID-19 for the medium term, including annual vaccination campaigns, tight infection control and permanent test and trace capacity.

"Secondly, we've got to deliver the improvements in cancer healthcare, children's health and mental health that were set out in the Long Term Plan, and thirdly, we've got to get through the care backlog. On current trajectories, that could take something like three to five years.

"We recognise that we in the NHS have got to change the way that we provide care, but the government has to fund that transformation and that's why the spending review at the end of the year – where the priorities and funding limits for the NHS are set for the rest of the parliament – is going to be so crucial, to really drive that transformation.

"In that spending review at the end of the year, the prime minister must also meet his personal commitment to sort out social care."

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