Coronavirus pandemic exposed NHS weaknesses, says European Commission

The pandemic meant that emergency field hospitals for coronavirus patients were set up across the United Kingdom.

“The country’s manufacturing industry was urged to modify its production lines to urgently produce additional medical equipment, such as ventilators, in order to cover the expected level of demand,” the commission said.

“The Covid-19 crisis has further accentuated existing health workforce shortages.”

Many EU member states’ healthcare systems were put under pressure by the pandemic, the commission added, saying: “It has exacerbated existing structural challenges related to effectiveness, accessibility and resilience of health systems.”

Some countries were facing healthcare staff shortages because of bad working conditions, the commission said.

As well as criticising Britain, it said there was insufficient investment in healthcare, including for crisis preparedness and response.

And it warned that the economic impact of coronavirus in Britain was likely to disproportionately hit people outside London, saying: “The socio-economic consequences of the pandemic are likely to be unevenly distributed  across regions of the United Kingdom. This poses a substantial risk of further widening the regional disparities in the United Kingdom.”

The commission said the whole of the EU was facing an “an unprecedented economic shock” from the pandemic, which has forced much of Europe into lockdown, and rising unemployment.

“We are facing a shock without precedent since the Great Depression,” Paolo Gentiloni, the European commissioner for the economy, told reporters in Brussels. “Our message is crystal clear: there needs to be a supportive fiscal stance in all member states.

“We recommend that all member states take all necessary measures to effectively address the pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery.”

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