During the pandemic, the flagship slogan from No10 was centered around protecting the NHS. Without the health service, we were repeatedly told, the collateral damage of deaths and waitlists would enact a toll much greater than Covid-19 on the UK.
A damning report released yesterday by a cross-party group of MPs suggests the damage has already been done.
It’s worth remembering the health service was struggling pre-pandemic, with waiting lists for elective surgery growing 50 per cent from 2015 to 2020.
But a range of groups, from GPs to radiologists, dentists to social care workers, warned about a collapse in the quality or number of staff in their workforce, despite government targets to increase new recruits.
The NHS in England is short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives. The number of GPs has continued to fall.
It comes only days after another report showed the number of people turning to private care.
In the final three months of last year, there were 69,000 private treatments carried out – a 39 per cent rise on pre-pandemic.