In a television studio in Stoke-on-Trent last month, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak traded blows over everything from credit card economics to Channel migrants to the accessories chain Claire’s. The list of issues the pair clashed over was dizzyingly long.
There was one glaring omission, however. In the hour-long debate there was not a single mention of the NHS – despite being engulfed in its biggest ever crisis. The NHS now shares the same traits as many of those relying upon it to keep them alive and well: it is elderly, has multiple comorbidities, and is in dire need of emergency care. Summer has left it on its knees. Worse is expected this winter.
“The new prime minister will inherit an NHS in its worst state in living memory,” says Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “There is no escaping that the NHS is in a state of crisis.”