Third phase of NHS response to COVID-19

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Letters and guidance about the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19.


This letter focuses on the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19. We are setting out NHS priorities for this third phase. Our shared focus is on:

  1. Accelerating the return to near-normal levels of non-Covid health services
  2. Preparation for winter demand pressures
  3. Doing the above in a way that takes account of lessons learned during the first Covid peak

Letter from the Sir Simon Stevens, Amanda Pritchard.

Published on 31 July 2020



Further to the letter of 31 July 2020 about the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19, we have published in this single document a range of supplementary materials to support implementation.

Minor updates made since publication are highlighted on pages 34 and 37.

This document includes:

  1. Urgent actions to address inequalities in NHS provision and outcomes
  2. Mental health planning
  3. Restoration of adult and older people’s community health services
  4. Using patient-initiated follow-ups as part of the NHS COVID-19 recovery
  5. Finance: 2020/21 phase 3 planning submission guidance
  6. COVID-19 data collections: changes to weekend collections

Published 7 August 2020



In the letter setting out the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19 sent on 31 July 2020 we set out our shared goals for accelerating the return to near-normal levels of non-COVID-19 health services, making full use of the capacity available in the ‘window of opportunity’ between now and winter.

This letter gives more details as to how block payments will flex to reflect expected elective activity levels.

Published 20 August 2020


This letter outlines the current position and plans for nursing and midwifery workforce capacity as we move into the third phase of the NHS response, and follows the publication of We are the NHS: People Plan for 2020/21 – action for us all.

Published 10 September 2020.