What’s next for the NHS?

Building the resilience of the health and care system

The COVID-19 pandemic saw the transformation of the National Health Service into the National Covid Service.


A year into this crisis and with the benefit of some hindsight, it is clear that too little consideration was given to the implications of a complete reallocation of resources away from ‘business as usual’.

Urgent action is needed in the NHS to meet a ballooning backlog of procedures put on hold during the pandemic and build a more resilient health care system.

This report, produced jointly with Reform Think Tank, shows the scale of the challenges the NHS faces:​

  • 6 million fewer patients were referred to treatment in 2020 than in 2019

  • 10 million patients could be on a waitlist by April

  • By April, 52-week waits for care are projected to have risen 12,008% since March 2020 (by December they had already risen by 7139%)

  • Cancellations of diagnostic testing and delayed treatment may lead to 1,660 extra deaths from lung cancer alone