Labour’s attempt to make a crisis out of the modest slippage in the English NHS seeks to ignore the far worse performance on waiting times in the Welsh NHS which they run.
Labour of course do not describe the fact that nearly one in five people in Wales have to wait for more than the target four hours for attention in A and E as a crisis. However they do think that if one in ten have to wait more than four hours in England that constitutes a crisis. This language is designed to politicise the NHS, and makes running the English NHS a bit more difficult.
Politically it is a weird strategy. Labour wish to go through a whole UK General Election talking about the English NHS. That means they have no message for Scottish or Welsh voters at all, as they hope to avoid talking about NHS Wales which they run, and of course the SNP and the Edinburgh Parliament run NHS Scotland. They wish to highlight anything that is going wrong, inviting comparison with Wales, and with their record of running NHS England in the previous decade. It reminds us of the disasters at some hospitals, with major lapses in care standards.
A more honest approach would be to confess they have problems and a worse A and E performance in Wales, and set out how they will remedy this. It might also be wise to talk about some of the topics in the General Election which apply to all of the UK, and not just England. It is an irony that Labour do not understand their own devolution settlement and what it means for General Elections.