Worst-ever crisis set to get worse

The elephant in the room during much of the interminable and vacuous “debates” between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak competing for votes from Tory Party members has been the dire state of the NHS after more than a decade of real terms cuts in bed numbers and funding, alongside increased pressures.

Truss’s limited comments on the NHS were limited to a vague suggestion that she wants to “cut bureaucracy” – and slash £10 billion from NHS budgets to give to social care. This would amount to an impossible 7% outright cut in NHS spending on top of existing inflationary pressures and targets for £5bn “savings”.

Calls for action

Outside the hermetically-sealed bubble of complacent and reactionary Conservative members there is near unanimity that the situation has gone from bad before the Covid pandemic to much, much worse.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents trusts and commissioners, not known for hyping up an issue, has warned that the “NHS is in its worst state in living memory  … There is no escaping that the NHS is in a state of crisis.”

But funding is not the only pressure on the NHS. Earlier the NHS Confederation had breached convention by writing publicly to warn chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi that without urgent action to protect the living standards of the poorest against soaring energy bills the UK could face a “humanitarian crisis” of ill health, excess deaths and rising inequality this winter. Widespread poverty, cold homes and missed meals would inevitably push up rates of sickness, which could increase the number of winter deaths.

Full article in The Lowdown, 6 September 2022