Health leaders called on the Government to prepare the public not to expect the same level of service for many months, adding that some staff are so exhausted and traumatised from caring for coronavirus patients that they will need support.
It comes after the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) warned earlier this week that the NHS must prepare for a “winter like no other” as it copes both with seasonal flu and coronavirus.
In its study and accompanying letter to Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, the NHS Confederation warns that it will not be possible to simply “switch on” NHS services immediately. It also calls for further assurances on the effectiveness of the test and trace programme and further guarantees over personal protective equipment (PPE).
Niall Dixon, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “NHS leaders understand the need to ease lockdown and get the country back to work.
“Part of this will involve restarting diagnostic screening, routine operations, outpatient appointments and other care – but we need to do this safely.
“Our members are aware that the virus is still with us and of the real risks of outbreaks in care settings.
“That is why we need a robust plan, communicated clearly, and to make sure the NHS can prepare safely, protecting its staff, patients and the wider community as it does so.
“Political leaders have a vital role to play in reassuring the public that every step possible is being taken to manage the virus while safely bringing back services that had to be paused.
“Retaining public confidence and trust in the NHS will be vital over the next few months.”