The Patients Association is urging the NHS and Government to maintain care for all patients who need NHS treatment and social care, and people affected by the wider economic and political consequences of COVID-19. This includes people who are already in poverty and at risk of worse health outcomes as a result, and those who need support in order to be able to self-isolate.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients have told us about the toll taken on them by not just COVID-19 itself, but also the emergency response earlier this year – both lockdown, and the drastic changes to NHS services. For many, it amounted to a rupture of their relationship with the NHS.

“As a nation, we can’t afford for this situation to get worse in the second wave. We have already built up a backlog of important treatment, and are certainly storing up substantial long-term problems relating to mental health, frailty and untreated illness. Economic dislocation always worsens health outcomes, and that now seems a major threat too if not mitigated. We know the burden is falling heaviest on those already at a disadvantage and least able to bear it.

“These challenges must not be lost or overlooked – care needs to be maintained as far as possible for all patients. We want to see the NHS learn from the earlier phase of the pandemic: it’s all very well making large-scale changes to services, but the NHS also needs to listen to patients, and hear what those changes mean for them.

“We know the NHS is working extremely hard, under serious pressure – we are working with NHS leaders to provide insight into patients’ experiences, and will be pleased to assist further in any way we can.”

The Patients Association’s position statement starts from the premise that the challenge of COVID-19 is the greatest crisis to face the UK since the Second World War, and argues that the response to it must be resourced on a comparable basis. This includes providing full economic support to businesses and individuals when lockdowns are imposed, but acting decisively to impose restrictions and control infection levels when necessary.

Click here to read the position statement.