Why flu could decide the next election

Matthew Norman (and Edited@dinarickman
Wednesday 01 October 2014 10:00
news

TLDR version: winter is coming.

The Prime Minister has promised to extend the hours during which we may see a GP by the year 2020.

Six years is a very long way in the future when drastic underfunding, a grave shortage of GPs and a population growing in age and number have conspired to desecrate the front line of NHS care today.

Passing over such trivial questions as whether wickedly overworked GPs will be mad keen to work even harder, you wonder whether leaving it until 2020 before surgeries open for longer on weekdays and on weekends is quite enough.

With so many of them forced to close their lists, and in some cases remove people from them, the crisis is happening now.

Whether Cameron will be in his post on 8 May 2015 to oversee his languid masterplan remains exceedingly hard to call. Seven months out, the rapid entrenchment of four-party politics makes the coming election more difficult to read than any before. But if anything is to break this deadlock, it could well be the NHS.

Winter is coming, to borrow the motto of the House Stark in Game of Thrones, and with it the season of the virus. If it brings a particularly nasty strain of flu or the winter vomiting bug, the flaws in primary health care – which until now have to some extent remained hidden in plain sight and confined to anecdotal suspicions – will be lethally exposed.

More: Five things to expect from David Cameron's speech today

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