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Shaun Lintern
Thursday 10 June 2021 10:27
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<p>NHS workers await patients at the height of the pandemic.</p>

NHS workers await patients at the height of the pandemic.

After a year described as "the greatest public health emergency in NHS history" by NHS England's chief executive Simon Stevens, the health service has only just begun the process of picking itself up after the coronavirus.

With more than 120,000 deaths and many more people suffering long-term complications and disability, the full consequences of the virus may not be fully apparent for months, or even years to come.

It will be one of the biggest post-war public policy challenges any government has faced.

And beyond Covid, the pandemic has had ramifications on cancer care, waiting times, community healthcare and mental health services.

The Independent’s weekly Health Check newsletter aims to chart all these major developments in the post-Covid recovery as well as keeping you up to date with the latest research across the health and social care landscape.

As always with the NHS, politics is never far away and Boris Johnson’s government is planning sweeping reforms to the health service later in 2021. Will these reforms deliver a renewed and agile NHS or undermine the service at the very worst moment?

Delivered straight to your inbox at 7am every Thursday, Health Check is designed as a shot in the arm for those following developments in the NHS, social care and life sciences. Sign up for the free newsletter by adding your email in the box below.

Even before anyone in the UK had ever heard of Wuhan’s wet market, health was the top issue for British voters headed to the polls in 2019. The Tories were elected, in part, due to commitments to build 40 new hospitals and the promise to grow the nursing workforce by 50,000 by 2024.

Will the reform of social care promised on the steps of Downing Street materialise and be worth the wait?

The NHS long term plan agreed in 2018 is in need of an urgent update as we look to a post-coronavirus recovery. In England alone, waiting lists have reached record levels, with 4.6 million people now waiting for treatment, the largest number since records began in August 2007.

Almost 250,000 people waited more than a year for treatment by December 2020.

How will the NHS cut these waiting lists with fewer nurses, doctors and hospital beds per capita than most major developed countries?

After a decade of austerity, the UK saw an unprecedented drop in health standards and a widening gap between rich and poor – Covid exploited these gaps and served to widen them. Can they be closed?

These questions are just some that the NHS and UK government faces.

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