Routine operations and appointments, which had been postponed due to an influx of Covid-19 patients, a lack of capacity and staff shortages, are now to go ahead according to NHS England.

However 16 health unions, including, the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, GMB and Unite have raised concerns that a "safety-first" approach should be adopted by the NHS. More than one million workers across the UK, including 999 call handlers, paramedics, midwives, nurses, cleaners and porters are represented by the unions.

Health unions have outlined a plan for the NHS to reopen services as safely as possible once lockdown ceases, including provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to routine care departments as well as intensive care and Covid19 wards, along with rapid testing kits. The Unions say the 40,000 staff who have been recalled by the NHS could be used to help short-staffed areas. They have also highlighted that social distancing in A&E departments should be observed. NHS England have confirmed that new guidelines hold patient safety and staff safety paramount.

During the pandemic cancer screening has been paused in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Very few cancer screening invitations have been sent out in England. The number of A&E visits are now at the lowest level since records began. Sara Gorton chairs the NHS group of unions and also works for Unison, she has commented that the health sector faced another "crucial test" after the pandemic. There is widespread concern about how the NHS will cope with a backlog of non-urgent procedures, as well as any further influx of coronavirus patients.

Health experts have warned that it could take months to get the NHS back to normal. Chief Executive of NHS Employers, Danny Mortimer added, "There should not though be a return to business as usual whether in the short, medium or long term, but a reset…Health leaders want to establish the impact of the last few months on staff and how best to improve how they are looked after for the longer term."

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