Professor Whitty called for the Government and health bosses to ‘get ahead of’ the looming health crisis.
While acknowledging that the pandemic is an ‘urgent priority’, he warned other diseases pose a major public health challenge, particularly for the elderly.
He said there was an increasing concentration of older people living in semi-rural and coastal areas with poorer healthcare provision.
Professor Whitty said: ‘We need to get ahead of it, or we will be faced by an entirely predictable problem of delivery of service to those in greatest need.
There is wide variation in ill health across the country, and much of this is avoidable.
It is possible to raise the health outcomes of the least healthy closer to the outcomes of the healthiest – we should be aiming for that.’
The chief medical officer used an annual report to warn that Britain will feel the effects of the pandemic on health for years to come, including how life expectancy rises have slowed.
Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.