Our NHS faces complex challenges in a post-Covid world

With thousands of people waiting more than a year for NHS treatment in England, it remains to be seen how the health service will cope after the stresses of the pandemic, writes Chris Stevenson

Friday 14 May 2021 00:01
<p>Almost 5 million patients are waiting for routine NHS treatment </p>

Almost 5 million patients are waiting for routine NHS treatment

The news that the latest numbers relating to patients waiting for routine treatment across the NHS has reached almost 5 million patients, up from 4.7 million in February, will be noted glumly by many. With the number of people waiting more than a year for treatment in England going up by more than 50,000 in a single month, to 436,000.

The good news, as we continue moving out of lockdown, is that the data shows the total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was up 6 per cent in March 2021, when compared with a year earlier. NHS England has also announced £160m to fund new pilots in 12 areas to trial new ways of cutting the backlog, although there appears little detail about how staffing for the scheme will work as yet.

The NHS has been a constant topic in our correspondence with readers during the Covid-19 pandemic, with people understanding that coronavirus treatment should obviously take priority. We have had plenty of letters about workloads and pay levels for NHS staff, with lots of support for decreasing the former and increasing the latter.

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