The NHS could be facing a backlog affecting up to nearly 10 million people by Christmas time, health bosses have warned.
According to a report by the NHS Confederation, the large backlog in missed treatments during lockdown - along with the new social distancing requirements and staffing challenges - are all likely to affect waiting lists for future treatments.
Such factors reportedly could cause the total of 4.2 million people already on the waiting list for treatments to more than double.
The organisation has also warned that, while the best case scenario will see the waiting list rise to eight million by the end of 2020, the worst case scenario (in which there is a second wave of infections) could see the waiting list rise to 9.8 million by the end of the year.
The NHS Confederation sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, warning that some members of NHS staff will need support to return to work after being traumatised by caring for coronavirus patients during the pandemic.
In addition to this, it reported that it's not possible to immediately "switch on" other services to where they were before the pandemic.
The email also warned that certain departments will find they are only able to operate at about 60 percent of their normal activity levels.
CEO of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, said, "The NHS wants to get back to providing these vital services - 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.
"There is a real determination to rise to this challenge, but it will need extra funding and capacity, not least in rehabilitation and recovery services in the community where so much of the coming demand will be felt."
What did the NHS Confederation recommend?
In its report, The NHS Confederation recommended that the deal currently in place with the independent sector should be extended until the end of the financial year in 2021, in order "to provide capacity to support the NHS to manage the backlog of treatment".
It also suggested additional assurances should be given to staff about the effectiveness of the Test and Trace programme and the availability of personal protective equipment.
Additionally, it proposed a review should be launched to look into "burnout and [the] wider wellbeing" of NHS and social care staff.
A Royal College of Nursing spokesperson said, "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."