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News Election Watch

NHS becomes political football as electioneering kicks off

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 05 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6375

Read our coverage of the general election 2019

  1. Abi Rimmer,
  2. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

The UK election season kicked off last weekend amid what is already shaping up to be a hard fought match between the country’s two bitterest rivals. Almost immediately, NHS leaders called on politicians not to use the NHS as a “political football”—a familiar call during UK general elections.

But when the whistle blew, Labour immediately went on the attack against the Conservatives by revealing the results of a freedom of information request that they said showed a big increase in the number of cancelled operations. Between April 2018 and March 2019 a total of 78 981 elective and urgent operations in England were cancelled, the data showed—less than in 2017-18 (81 565) but more than in 2016-17 (74 170). Staffing problems and equipment failures were responsible for more than 15 000 cancelled operations last year, Labour said.

Perhaps sensing an …

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