‘Burnt-out nursing staff’ means it will be a struggle to restart NHS services

Services will also be running with 60% of normal capacity because of the need for infection control measures.

Laura Townsend
10 June 2020
Nurse measures a patients pulse

The NHS Confederation has warned that it will not be possible to simply ‘switch on’ NHS services.

Hospital bosses fear the number of patients on NHS waiting lists could skyrocket to 10 million in the wake of COVID-19.


In a report published today by the NHS Confederation, senior healthcare leaders warn that the health service in England faces an uphill battle as it continues to manage thousands of very sick patients, maintain social distancing and restart elective services.

This challenge will be made harder as healthcare services will be running with 60% of normal capacity because of the need for infection control measures, including the need to adhere to social distancing measures for patients and staff.

With a waiting list of already more than 4 million, routine procedures will be one of the many key challenges to be dealt with.

The NHS Confederation warns that it will not be possible to simply ‘switch on’ NHS services immediately as hospital bosses are of the real risks of new COVID-19 outbreaks in healthcare settings.


They also highlight the serious impact the pandemic has had on staff.

The legacy of this pandemic.

A Royal College Of Nursing spokesperson provided a stark warning; “For burnt-out nursing staff on short-staffed wards, care homes or clinics, it will be a struggle to restart services.

“The legacy of this pandemic is yet to dawn – the professionals are still focused on the here and now. As services begin to return, the Government must continue to invest in the workforce so that an exhausted profession – already facing 40,000 vacancies at the start of this pandemic – is properly supported.”

The NHS Confederation has called for a review of the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS and social care workforce given the unprecedented pressure staff have been under.


Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “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.

“The virus has inflicted pain and suffering throughout the UK, but we also know the measures to combat it have come at a terrible cost to those who have not been able to access the care, treatment and support they need and to many whose conditions have gone undiagnosed.

“We need to send a clear message that it will take time to recover from this shock and we need patience and understanding and from politicians, assurances, support and realistic expectations.”

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