Years of dangerous underfunding have culminated in the £22billion NHS hospital cuts faced right now in 44 areas across the UK.
Theresa May is counting on two words to get her through the local and general elections – strong and stable.
But for seven years, the Tories have relied on two other words to defeat Labour over the NHS – Mid Staffs.
Jeremy Hunt never misses an opportunity to say these words, recalling the scandal in 2005-09 when there were a heavily disputed number of increased deaths at Stafford Hospital, then run by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Hansard records reveal he has said them 82 times in the last two years just in Parliament. The Conservatives see the phrase as neutralising any of Labour’s well-justified attacks on the Tory record of slashing and privatising the health service.
More dangerously, the Tories have used the aftermath of Mid Staffs as an experiment in decimating NHS services. Years of dangerous underfunding have culminated in the £22billion NHS hospital cuts faced right now in 44 areas across the UK.
Under new Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP), a shocking 19 hospitals and 24 Accident and Emergency Units are facing closure.
“Our hospital has been the template for everything the Tories are trying to do to the health service,” says Cheryl Porter, 53, whose life – and her baby Leo’s – were saved by the hospital, renamed Stafford County, before it was downgraded.