The Tories cannot go into the next election with 5m on the list
One of the inevitable consequences of dealing with COVID has been the impact on those who have wanted the NHS for other reasons who are currently on waiting lists of one sort or another. It is estimated that there are 5m currently on them and this could be increasing all the time. Inevitably the primary focus has been on controlling the infection but as that pressure eases the focus will be on those who want attention for a wide range of other things
Back in May last year in a PB guest slot Foxy, who is a doctor, wrote this:
Even if the virus is solved by vaccination or miracle in 2021 we are going to have an enormous backlog of waiting lists that will still be present at the next General Election, and a hotter political potato than ever. Not least because clinical outcomes will worsen from the delay..The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be able to find the savings he needs for deficit recovery in the Health sector, and the failure to deliver the 40 hospitals and 50,000 nurses will prey on his mind too. That £350 million per week extra is going to be needed not for expansion, but simply for political survival, particularly for placating the newly acquired older, more working class Tory electorate.
Maybe the need to have as much time as possible to try to get this down might lead to Johnson calling the next election in late 2024 rather than earlier.
Whatever the party needs action and the perception has to be created that things are getting better. The Labour assertion that “you can’t trust the Tories” with the NHS” will ring more true if the waiting lists are not substantially lower than current levels.