Every winter is the worst winter for the UK’s National Health Service. But that doesn’t mean we’ve seen it all before. New data show NHS backlogs have hit a record 7.2 million, emergency departments are leaving patients waiting longer for care, ambulances are taking longer and then are kept waiting outside hospitals for lack of space in emergency wards. All of this is on top of looming nursing and ambulance-worker strikes, record levels of staff burnout and massive workforce shortages exacerbated by Brexit.
Increasingly, those who can pay for private treatment are opting to do so — including, reportedly and unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. But the private care fast-track doesn’t apply to those times in life when you need an emergency doctor.