Don’t expect a return to normal service any time soon

In his resignation letter to prime minister Boris Johnson last week, former health secretary Matt Hancock said he was “so proud that Britain has avoided the catastrophe of an overwhelmed NHS” and also claimed that “we [now] stand on the brink of a return to normality”.

The evidence for the first of those claims is patchy – ‘overwhelmed’ is a word used too often by leading voices in the health sector these days not to be taken seriously – and the twin threats of fresh covid variants and the forthcoming (and not uncontroversial) health and care bill mean NHS patients are unlikely to experience normality any time soon.

‘Black alerts’ and ‘major incident’ notices – issued by hospitals when they’re dangerously close to reaching 100 per cent occupancy, and the stuff of dramatic headlines each winter over the past decade – have become a year-round rather than a seasonal phenomenon.

Full story in The Lowdown, 28 June 2021