That’s right – around one-fifth of the UK population did not receive hospital care because Boris Johnson’s Tories couldn’t be bothered to fund the NHS properly.
Don’t tell me the money isn’t there because experience over the last year has shown that it quite clearly is – the Tories simply don’t want to spend it on a service they are quietly trying to privatise.
We all knew that the Covid-19 pandemic would disrupt normal NHS services; this was inevitable no matter how well-resourced the health service would have been.
But the Tories have spent years starving it of funds and hiving off elements of it for sale to private companies that are simply incapable of helping in a crisis, even if their bosses were inclined to do so.
As a result, we now see that 4.6 million people missed out on hospital treatment – mostly because hospitals suspended their normal services in order to handle the huge influx of people who were severely ill with the virus as a result of Boris Johnson’s incompetent failure to lock down the UK in time to prevent a tragedy.
A further six million fewer people were referred by GPs to hospital for diagnostic tests and treatment because of the disruption to care, a wish not to further pressurise the overstretched NHS, and a reluctance to send patients to a place where they could catch the virus.
This means the NHS is likely to face even more pressure as these missing millions demand treatment as the pandemic eases off. And what if another wave pushes hospital admissions up again?
More to the point: how many patients have died?
And crowdfunding website GoFundMe has reported a huge increase in the number of people seeking donations to support medical care: 87 per cent more citing “waiting lists” as their reason, 60 per cent more stating they need cash for “clinical trials” and a deeply concerning 55 per cent more saying they need cash to buy cancer drugs.
The concern here is that people who pay for private surgery often end up being sent back to the NHS to have botched operations fixed.
So people who pay for operations to take pressure off the NHS could find that they are still only making matter worse.
The extent of the problem is highlighted by The Guardian:
The number of people forced to wait more than a year for their operation has rocketed from 1,613 before the pandemic to 304,044 in January this year, and more than 1 million people have been waiting at least six months, even though 92% of patients are supposed to be treated within 18 weeks under the referral to treatment scheme.
“The waiting list is already at the highest level it’s been since comparable records began in 2007, and if it did rise from 4.6 million now to 9.7 million by March 2024 as we estimate, that’s more than double the waiting list now,” [said Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation].
Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, pointed out that patients have gone without life-saving treatments:
She said the association was “particularly concerned by reports of treatments being cancelled that could be life-saving”.
Finally – and to hammer home the point that this is a political issue: the disruption to hospital treatment was almost one-and-a-half times as bad in poorer areas than where people are richest. The worst-affected English region was the North West.
This confirms not only that poverty affects health but also that Tories like Boris Johnson couldn’t care less; after all, they haven’t done anything about it.
It will take years to reduce the number of people waiting for treatment until the 18-week target time is achieved – even with a government that genuinely wanted to help. The experts say it won’t happen until long after the next general election.
But local elections are happening much sooner – on May 6. Tories will be concerned that voters will use them to express their displeasure with a government that let them down badly, and has been lying about what a good job it has done.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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