Your report on the state of the NHS (One in four Britons ‘not confident NHS can care for them’, survey reveals, 26 December) was summed up by the quote from Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary: “With record waiting lists, 100,000 NHS staff shortages and 112,000 vacancies in social care in 2019, the Tories left our health service criminally ill-equipped for Covid.”
My husband, in the final stages of dementia and awaiting a place in care, is in a holding ward. Insufficient nurses try to cope, but mouth hygiene is neglected. And no shower or hair wash for more than a month. He deserves better. Hardly God’s waiting room, more like death row. Aneurin Bevan will be turning in his grave.
You report that one in four of us is not sure that the NHS can care for them. I wonder if this stage in public sentiment was envisaged or even engineered as part of a transition to a system of private healthcare. For almost two years we have been bludgeoned with the command to protect the NHS. But protecting the NHS is not primarily our responsibility – it’s the government’s. There’s nothing inevitable about the NHS having to struggle along on inadequate resources while its staff compensate for the deficit with heroic amounts of goodwill.
In the past four months, three friends of mine, all ardent believers in the NHS, have swallowed their principles and paid for private operations to avoid a wait of up to two years for surgery that would restore their quality of life. They have no doubts about the quality of care provided by the NHS, but its underresourcing means that long waits for non-urgent interventions have become painfully inevitable.
With a heavy heart, I fear that I would do the same in their position. This is what 11 years of underfunding has come to. And yes, I do believe that this is a Conservative strategy towards private healthcare, in which, because we can afford to do so, we find ourselves colluding.