Charities and medical associations have warned the government the NHS ‘is at breaking point' with cancer treatment waiting lists, the care of mental health patients and long-term care named as key areas for improvement.
The open letter was published in The Independent and signed by spokespeople including Dr Mark Porter, chair of council, British Medical Association, Jeremy Hughes, chief executive, Alzheimer's Society and Michelle Mitchell, chief executive, the MS Society.
The letter said signs of a system buckling under the twin crises of rising demand and flatlining budgets were "everywhere" with a NHS budget of £30bn predicted by 2020.
The letter said: "Thousands of patients are facing longer and even unacceptable waits to find out whether or not they have cancer, because services are under extreme pressure and referral targets are being missed. In mental health, patients in need of emergency support are being moved to hospitals hundreds of miles away because there simply are not enough beds in their area.
It added: "In social care meanwhile, families continue to be crippled by the cost of care, and thousands of elderly and vulnerable people are not getting the help they need and deserve just to live their daily lives safely and with dignity. People with long-term progressive conditions such as dementia have been cut adrift, reliant on unpaid and unsupported carers to live from day to day.
"There is also a pressing need to invest in children and young people's physical and mental health, not just as a moral imperative, but also to help prevent problems later in life that may need more intensive and expensive support.
The letter concluded: "The list could go on, and the anxieties of people working at the front line of the health and care services are well-known.
"The NHS and our social care services are at breaking point and things cannot go on like this. An NHS deficit of £30bn is predicted by 2020 - a funding black hole that must be filled."
COVID-19 letter sent to policyholders
Early next week
With payment holidays and enhanced NHS cash benefits