As this horrendous year comes to an end, another realisation seems to be dawning on BBC editors: all those warnings about the NHS may have been right all along.
The BBC’s health correspondent Nick Tringle published an usually stark piece yesterday, titled: Is the NHS going to break in 2017?
Key targets are already being missed. One in 10 patients in England is currently waiting longer than four hours to be dealt with in A&E. This is the worst performance since the target was introduced in 2004. And in Wales and Northern Ireland, the situation is even worse.
But if you want to know how bad it could get, the worst performers give us a clue. In some hospitals, a third of patients have to wait longer than four hours to be seen.
The waiting list for non-emergency operations, such as knee and hip replacements, is also getting worse. Soon there will be 4 million people waiting for an op – that is one in 13 people. So far, the NHS has managed to keep the long waiters – those waiting more than six months or even a year – down to a bare minimum. But as the NHS can only see about 300,000 patients a month, it seems pretty clear that is going to change.
By any standards this is all very alarming.
What the piece doesn’t do however is point out that there have been spending cuts imposed on the NHS, while the Tories imposed a huge top-down reorganisation.
Why is our NHS in crisis? Easy – since 2010 our spend as % of GDP has been in decline & now well behind the rate in other top EU countries. pic.twitter.com/wGztSf6tkK
— Healthier in the EU (@HealthierIn) December 29, 2016
Might that explain why the NHS is finding it difficult to cope?
Either way, there is some acknowledgment this may hurt the Prime Minister:
Seasoned observers have started talking about a return to the 1990s when images of overcrowded hospitals and stories of patients waiting years for treatment dogged John Major’s Tory government at almost every turn. Could the same happen to Theresa May?
That depends on whether the BBC will cover the NHS crisis as strongly as it has in the past