The NHS is facing a “triple whammy” of rising Covid-19 cases, a major backlog in treatment and reduced capacity due to infection-control measures, according to health bosses.

The NHS bosses also called on ministers to be “honest and realistic” about waiting lists for treatment.

Two million patients have already waited longer than 18 weeks for treatment, the highest number since records began, in 2007.

NHS Confederation chief executive Danny Mortimer said a sustainable plan had to be found for the NHS.

“No-one can be in any doubt that the road to recovery for the NHS and social-care services will be long,” he said.

“Despite dire predictions that it would not be able to cope, the NHS has not only managed a huge wave of Covid patients but also continued to treat millions not infected with the virus.

“We have learned much and are in a better position to manage the virus than first time round, despite still not having an effective test-and-trace system.”

A “serious shortage” of nursing staff was putting a strain on services and the people who worked in them, she added.

As infections keep rising, the UN boss calls it a “mind-numbing” figure as experts say the true number of deaths is likely to be much higher.

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News – NHS faces pandemic ‘triple whammy’ this winter