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British politics

NHS managers are gaslighting the public

Amanda Pritchard: “shyer than the African aardvark”. Tom Nicholson/AFP/Getty

The NHS is mired in a “historic” crisis, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Over Christmas, one patient in Swindon waited 99 hours for a hospital bed. In Wales, a 93-year-old woman with a broken hip lay “screaming” for 25 hours before an ambulance finally arrived. Whitehall targets for ward spaces and GP appointments have the “ghostly uncertainty of Chinese pandemic statistics”. And all solutions tried so far have “failed to deliver”. Tony Blair oversaw one of the largest increases in NHS spending since the Second World War – only for Britain to fall behind Germany, France and even America in the availability of proper medical care. Whatever Labour politicians pretend, the broken system cannot be fixed simply by throwing more money at it. Health Secretary Steve Barclay even reportedly admitted he “wouldn’t know what to do with more cash if he got it”.

Much of this is down to “managerial incompetence”, says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. Why aren’t those in charge – the likes of Amanda Pritchard, the £255,000-a-year CEO of NHS England – being “hauled over the coals” for this ongoing emergency? “Shyer than the African aardvark, and even harder to spot”, NHS managers take no responsibility for their failures. Instead, they gaslight the public into believing the crisis is somehow our fault. Before Christmas we were urged against having fun – the “thoughtless consumption” of sherry trifle and alcohol – so as not to become a “burden” on the health service. It’s disgraceful. “No board of a major company could get away with that ‘nothing-to-do-wiv-us, gov’ attitude to corporate negligence.” NHS managers shouldn’t either.