Using monthly data from the Understanding Society (UKHLS) COVID-19 Survey we analyse the evolution of unmet need and assess how the UK health care system performed against the principle of horizontal equity in health care use during the first wave of COVID-19 wave. Unmet need was most evident for hospital care, and less pronounced for primary health services (non-emergency medical helplines, GP consultations, community pharmacist advice, over the counter medications and prescriptions). Despite this, there is no evidence that horizontal equity, with respect to income, was violated for NHS hospital outpatient and inpatient care during the first wave of the pandemic. There is evidence of pro-rich inequities in use of GP consultations, prescriptions and medical helplines at the peak of the first wave, but these were eliminated as the pandemic progressed. There are persistent pro-rich inequities for services that may relate to individuals' ability to pay (over the counter medications and advice from community pharmacists).
- health care
- unmet need