Theresa May gave an interview to the BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning in which, remarkably in the midst of the worst NHS crisis in years, she wanted to concentrate on her promise – yet another u-turn – not to have a vote on fox-hunting during this Parliament and to plant a ‘new national forest’.
Marr reminded May that if he’d had to wait five hours in an ambulance after his stroke he wouldn’t have been there to interview her and told the PM:
This is about life and death and up and down the country people are having horrendous experiences of the NHS, whether you say there is a plan or not there is a real, real problem.
May waffled about a plan, the dedication of NHS staff and variations between hospitals. On funding, she attempted the usual tactic of claiming that the Tories have put more money into the NHS – to which Marr responded by reminding her that the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the NHS is suffering the tightest financial squeeze in its history.
But, unremarked upon so far by BBC News commentators, she made a crucial, inadvertent admission – the Tories look at the NHS regularly and have put as much money in as they felt it needed:
Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt have attempted to paint the current chaos in our NHS as ‘all part of the plan‘ in order to avoid – unsuccessfully – that it is indeed a crisis.
But by stating that they’ve put in as much money as they thought the NHS needed, May admitted that – at best – the Tories have been guilty of gross incompetence in their handling of our most valuable national treasure.
As Marr observed, what they thought was adequate was ‘not nearly enough, clearly‘.
Just as importantly, May’s use of ‘we‘ amounts to a confession of personal culpability – she cannot simply try to dodge responsibility by reshuffling Hunt into some other role tomorrow and letting his tenure carry the blame.
The Tories have reduced the rate of increase in NHS funding compared to every government before them – and, crucially, imposed on it the most sustained reduction in history relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP):
GDP is one measure of the national economy. While far from exact, it is affected by population – more people equal more demand and more output. So a reduction in NHS spending relative to GDP implies an underfunding relative to the likely demand on it.
The kind of reduction depicted above has put the NHS – and the people who rely on it – in the desperate situation we now face.
If a business leader screwed up this badly, they’d resign before they were sacked.