The NHS has perhaps at its lowest ebb in decades, 66 hospitals have issued black alerts, which means that these providers can no longer provide comprehensive medical care to all of its patients, this formal acknowledge that staff are overstretched, hospitals filled to capacity and the health service as a whole is reeling under the pressure should have provoked some response from the government. Instead Theresa May has remained resolute, refusing to sanction additional funds to be allocated to the NHS.

Conservatives try to shift the blame

Although due to the weak political opposition it faces, this Conservative government should be able to get through this crisis without any serious political challenges, it will certainly not emerge unscathed.

There is no denying that there is a significant amount of waste in the NHS and that a great deal of excess fat could be shed from the organisation without impacting on patient outcomes or quality of care. Where this government has failed is in its method of removing waste from the healthcare system. The handsomely paid NHS managers, the millionaire consultants who are more interested in writing research papers than treating patients and the NHS culture of not sacking inept or useless staff members are all problems which can be traced back to the top of the NHS hierarchy. Yet the government has decided to allow these people to decide where efficiency savings and cuts should be made, which due to self-interest and incompetence, is never in their own departments.

Thus you find yourself with a healthcare system where drugs are being rationed, hospital beds are in short supply and there are severe shortages of doctors and nurses at the same time as managers and bureaucrats are multiplying at a pace.

NHS: Root and Branch reform

In many ways, this is the same policy which the government is adopting with the rail networks, shifting the blame onto the providers and trade unions rather than fulfilling their own responsibilities as the government to take decisive action to solve these intractable problems, which scream for external intervention.

It is a formulation designed to shield the government from negative press and negative voter outcomes, yet as the problems with the NHS worsen, many voters are coming to the conclusion that it is the government which is at fault from the deterioration in the NHS. Additional funding must be done hand-in-hand with a root and branch reform of the NHS, identifying the powerful, well-paid interest groups within the organisation and dealing with them head-on.

Otherwise, any additional funds will be covered up by these interest groups without reaching the places they are badly needed within the NHS. Until such an approach is taken by the government, this winter of discontent could drag on well-past its seasonal deadline.