Tory apologies over the immense pressures now on an overburdened NHS ring hollow ... and could even ultimately bring the Government down, says a leading health academic.
Prof Peter Bradshaw, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Huddersfield, has hit out hard at both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Theresa May having to apologise as A&Es nationally struggle to cope.
He says this is all due to under investment over several years and the Conservatives knew of the problems such a lack of money was storing up and yet have done nothing about it.
He said: “Ministers have practiced ostrich politics on this one since 2010, displaying beautiful indifference to the warnings of the frontline and often with bludgeoning rudeness and contempt for any who disagree. They are currently paving the way nicely for Mr Corbyn.”
He added: “It is with debilitating repetition that our news over the last three years has reported an impending apocalypse in the NHS. But the day is nigh and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has responded with a fawning apology, something reinforced by equally false piety from Mrs May who also says ‘sorry.’
“Informed opinion has warned long and loud that the lowest under investment in NHS history would mean inevitably the proverbial solids would hit the fan… and they now have, resulting in all elective treatments being cancelled until mid January and possibly until the end of the month.
“Mr Hunt repeatedly said the commentators of doom were being alarmist, quoting recent findings of the Commonwealth Fund international analysis of healthcare systems that shows the NHS is the best, safest and most affordable in the world.
“But wherein lies the immediate problem? Well, it’s at the front door because one in 10 A&E departments declared a ‘major incident’ last week – meaning they are overwhelmed by demand and unable to see the sickest patients within a safe timescale.”
He said the warning signs of an imminent crisis were there with GPs lengthy closures over Christmas, overwhelming numbers ringing the 111 helpline that often advises A&E attendance and massive evidence throughout December of a virulent influenzal epidemic inflicting particularly the elderly.
Prof Bradshaw added that more than one in eight patients rushed to hospital in an ambulance have faced a delay of more than 30 minutes to even get into A&E.
He added: “Margaret Thatcher said in 1989 she wanted the NHS squeezing ‘until the pips squeak.’ Mrs May has now made them howl leading to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine claiming A&E departments are so crammed that staff cannot move between patients and provide the basic level of care – thereby putting patients at risk.”