This report highlights the NHS community sector’s response to COVID-19, and the critical contribution they made together with hospitals and other local partners to prevent the service from becoming overwhelmed during the first peak of the pandemic.
Over the past few months, community health services have stepped up and shown their value, flexibility and resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. Our community staff have adapted, transformed and delivered essential services during the most demanding and difficult time of their careers. COVID-19 has shown that with the right long-term funding, workforce and support from the centre, we can reimagine the NHS and deliver more care within and closer to home.
The report also explores the challenges presented by COVID-19 pressures and the support required from the government and the NHS national bodies to invest in a sustainable ‘new normal’ level of community service provision.
We hope it showcases the critical role that community health services have played during the pandemic and the central role they must play in our health and care system going forward. For far too long, community services have lacked due recognition and prioritisation at the national policy level. Yet they are firmly at the heart of every local health and care system.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic and looking ahead to the prospect of a testing winter, we stand ready to make the rhetoric of ‘bolstering care in the community’ a reality. How do we ensure community health services have the resources they need – both workforce and funding – to increase capacity and deliver more care closer to home?
How can we embed the transformation and innovation seen during COVID-19, at the same time as dealing with ever-increasing and competing demand on services? This report goes some way into setting out these challenges and a way forward.
We are, of course, grateful to the community provider chairs and chief executives who have
contributed their views and case studies to our research. This report would not be possible without them, and we hope it does justice to their incredible efforts throughout the pandemic.