How Covid has dealt the NHS a lasting blow

Posted: December 19th 2022


Really interesting article about the institutional equivalent of long covid in the context of the NHS.

IFS research economist Max Warner says: "The NHS is showing clear signs of strain heading into the winter and is treating fewer patients than it was pre-pandemic, across many types of care.

"The real risk, almost three years on from the start of the pandemic, is that the Covid hit to NHS performance is not time-limited.

"Going forward, we need to grapple with the possibility that the health service is just able to treat fewer patients with the same level of resources."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "As the IFS report acknowledges, Covid had a significant impact on the NHS, and we are focused on delivering the biggest catch-up programme in health history".

They said the NHS had reduced waits of 18 months by 60% in a year and "virtually eliminated" waits of more than two years.

"We're allocating an extra £500 million to speed up hospital discharge, getting ambulances back on the road more quickly, and increasing the number of NHS call handlers."

This is the second of a series of IFS reports.

The first found the NHS was doing less than before the pandemic, despite more staff and funding.

But this one is designed to highlight the complexities and mitigating factors, concluding there are significant long-term changes to the health and care landscape worthy of further investigation.