While all eyes look to Brexit, our NHS is about to collapse

rexit casts its shroud over everything. The no-dealers grow more wild-eyed by the day; though sterling drops, prices rise. Chris Grayling says we can dig for Britain. There is a cabinet at war: the Tory chancellor is denounced as a saboteur by a previous holder of the office. But all this craziness does have one political advantage: it hides all the other crises the chancellor can’t possibly solve in his budget next month. Of these, the NHS and social care is the pressure cooker likely to blow loudest. In the Brexit hubbub, an eerie silence falls before what most NHS managers – and, indeed, NHS ministers – expect to be a near-as-dammit winter collapse.

Start with this: everyone knows there’s a nursing shortage, but until a new report from the authoritative King’s Fund, no one knew it was this bad. The fund itself sounds shocked to find the number of nurses in the NHS is actually falling, year on year. Despite repeated ministerial promises, there are fewer nurses this April than last April, and the trend has continued since.

The need soars in hospitals, midwifery, care homes and care in the community. Emergency admissions have risen by 14% since 2010, so the nurse:patient ratio is getting worse. This is the first year-on-year fall in nurses since the Francis report on the scandal at Mid-Staffs hospital, which was caused by a management frantically cutting debts by reducing its staff, leaving patients cruelly and dangerously neglected.

Article from the Guardian, 17 October 2017