The NHS is a national treasure and has been put under unprecedented pressure in the last year. We now have some hope, thanks to the scientists’ achievements getting their vaccines past the regulators and which are now being rolled, of some return to normality. There has been some fantastic work by frontline staff within the NHS but the pandemic has demonstrated many failings in areas such as lack of adequate numbers of frontline staff and lack of PPE to name but two. It is important that once mass vaccination is in place and the country begins to open up we learn from earlier mistakes and do not lose ourselves in rhetoric about, what is hoped, is the success of the vaccination programme. The death toll from Covid-19 is frighteningly high but the unnecessary deaths and suffering from delays to treatment for cancer, other life threatening or disabling diseases will have to be taken into account. There should be a day of reckoning including details of unintended casualties, both physical and psychological, from this pandemic. An inquiry has been promised and this opportunity should be grasped, but it has to be meaningful and address not just the successes but the shortcomings of both the NHS and the government during the pandemic.
The NHS was struggling before the pandemic – times have changed since its introduction and now with good will on all sides there is an opportunity for a radical rethink and restructure of the NHS. An open and honest inquiry could be an ideal starting point to build a health service suited to the future preserving the strengths of the NHS while addressing the weaknesses