It is “going to take many years for us to realistically get back on top” of tackling waiting lists, which are now longer than they have been for about 20 years, according to NHS Confederation chief executive Danny Mortimer.
He told Times Radio that, once the impacts of the spike of the virus in January and February are understood, waiting lists are “still going to be significantly higher than we have seen for a very, very long time”.
He suggested that honesty from both politicians and the NHS with the public about the scale of the task and how long it will take will be “really, really important”.
Efforts will be needed to “explain as clearly as we can what is going to happen and what sort of choices are being made and sadly how long it is going to take for us to get back to where we desperately want to be”, Mr Mortimer said.
“We do need that investment in facilities, investment in people, and we also need to understand that there are competing pressures because of the virus, because of the impact we have seen on people’s mental health that we are going to have to deal with for the longer term.
“There is also the continued reality of the vaccination programme as well – all of those things need investment from the Government.”