What are the priorities for the NHS during the period when tight Covid-19 restrictions are in place?

People in many areas of the United Kingdom will be living under tight Covid-19 restrictions for the next few months. In London and the South-East of England, for example, this means being placed under Tier 4 restrictions.

For the NHS, there will be two main priorities during this period. The first will be to rapidly implement the Covid-19 vaccination programme. This is our best hope of bringing the pandemic under control and allowing life to start to return to normal. But success requires working on a speed and scale not seen before for any public health programme in the United Kingdom. Adequate supplies of vaccine must be secured and the infrastructure put in place to administer vaccines rapidly to tens of millions of people.

The second priority will be to ensure that people with non-Covid illnesses receive the care they need. This will be very challenging in the middle of a pandemic. We have already seen a large backlog of NHS work build up in 2020. The NHS must ensure that people receive the healthcare they need at this difficult time; whether this is in general practice, mental health, or hospital settings to prevent a rise in ill-health and deaths from non-Covid related causes.