Pressure mounted on Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson over Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) on Tuesday, as a survey found thousands of patients die annually awaiting emergency hospital treatment.
The focus on the NHS has intensified ahead of Thursday’s snap general election after Johnson’s initially dismissive response to a photograph of a 4-year-old boy who was forced to sleep on a hospital floor during a wait for an emergency bed.
The unpublished survey by two NHS doctors found 5,449 patients had died over the past three years after waiting six to 11 hours for a hospital bed at accident and emergency units, The Guardian reported.
The doctors analysed the care received by more than four million people, who had used hospital emergency services since 2016, the newspaper said.
Opposition Labour Health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth accused the Conservatives of overseeing “a decade of savage cuts and neglect” in the NHS.
The problems include “hospitals not able to provide a safe service and patients waiting hours” for emergency treatment, Ashworth tweeted.
The row over health services could still affect voting in Thursday’s election.
Opinion polls suggest a Conservative vote share of up to 45 per cent, 10 percentage points ahead of Labour and enough to win Johnson a parliamentary majority.
“But the Tory lead of 10 points is not that far ahead of the six [point] figure, which is the point at which you say there’s a 50-per-cent chance of a hung parliament,” John Curtice a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde, said on Monday.