What’s Driving the UK’s Shortage of Medical Doctors?

Photograph Source: DFID – UK Department for International Development – CC BY 2.0

At the beginning of the first lockdown two years ago a friend told me about a relative of his who was a nurse in a London hospital who had caught Covid-19. She said that her manager had told her “to go home and tell nobody about it”.

His response to bad news was to hide it, which is in keeping with secretive traditions of the NHS, as it is with all large institutions protecting their own interests. In the case of the NHS, the secrecy may be less obvious because a sympathetic media has been giving wall-to-wall coverage to its heroic efforts to treat victims of the pandemic.

Reporting today focuses largely on the shortage of doctors and nurses, their numbers depleted by Covid-19. Much publicity is given to short-term fixes such as sending in the army and re-employing retired medical staff.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso).