Lives are being put at risk with record long waits in accident-and-emergency units and 999 calls taking hours to be reached. The causes of this go beyond Covid - and with winter coming it looks set to get worse.
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Natalie Quinn's parents were active and enjoying life when the pandemic hit.
Although her father, Jimmy, had been diagnosed with dementia, he was still driving, playing golf and attending groups organised by the Alzheimer's Society. But lockdown hit them hard.
"All my dad's activities stopped and he went downhill quickly," Ms Quinn, 54, says.
"My mum was looking after him, but it took its toll. She had to go into hospital and he went into a care home.
"It was meant to be temporary - but, of course, we couldn't see him. He deteriorated and never came out."
By February, Jimmy, 75, was dead.
Natalie's mother's health worsened too. For years, she had been living with rare blood marrow disorder. Now 77, she has spent the past six months in and out of hospital in Yeovil, their home town.
"I really believe if they could have remained active and living the life they had, it could be so different," Ms Quinn says.