Hospitals expect to be overwhelmed within weeks, and a decade of underfunding is part of the reason

The strain on the NHS is unprecedented. Within a few weeks, hospitals across the country expect to be overwhelmed, meaning that they will be unable to deliver the standard of care to which people are entitled. The number of Covid patients in UK hospitals, 32,294, is the highest ever and climbing. Staff absences are at crisis levels, due to illness and the need to self-isolate. Morale is at breaking point (and in some cases, broken). The UK is on course to exceed 100,000 Covid-related deaths by the end of the month, or soon after.

The pandemic and the winter are the causes, at a basic level. The second wave of Covid-19 arrived with its more infectious variant at what is always the busiest time of year for the health service. But poor leadership by an inadequate, overcentralised government with an ideological bias against the public sector has made a difficult situation far worse. The number of excess deaths in the UK is among the highest in the world, with the current death rate above that in Germany, France and the European Union as a whole.

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