It also makes a mockery of the decision of Tory MPs, presumably at the behest of senior whips like Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew, opposing the amendment tabled in Parliament by Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Secretary, which would have required the NHS to publish a staffing assessment every two years.
Mr Hunt argued, persuasively, that training more doctors for the NHS would help reduce the £6bn annual bill for locums while Andrew Mitchell, his one-time colleague, said it would lessen the need for Britain to poach medical staff from the developing world and the very countries with the greatest health needs. Why, therefore, did Ministers insist on opposing such a common sense move when it is clear that the failure of successive administrations to train and recruit sufficient doctors, nurses and other professionals is adding to the strain of NHS staff who were exhausted long before Covid struck?
As for asking patients to travel further afield to hospitals with spare capacity, it might – just – be practical in some cases, but please do spare a thought for the less mobile or those without access to transport or loved ones for support.
The worry is that such strategies leave some of the individuals concerned even more fearful of becoming a burden and, in turn, not coming forward when their health first troubles them. Even with NHS waiting lists and 999 response times at record levels, that must not be allowed to happen.
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