NHS England and NHS Improvement's recent letter setting out phase three of the NHS' response to COVID-19 makes explicitly clear that health inequalities and wider disparities in access to care should be front of mind in trusts' recovery from the pandemic. The letter also outlines what is expected of trusts in terms of performance, including restarting elective and some cancer care, and a commitment to mental health and health inequalities.

Eight action points have been developed, using learnings from coronavirus, whilst building on the NHS' long term plan commitments to population health. Actions range from protecting the most vulnerable from COVID-19, where systems are asked to consider risks relevant to protected characteristics and the wider socio-economic, cultural, and occupational risk factors in the local area, to restoring NHS services in an inclusive way.