The National Health Service moved dramatically to the centre of the UK general election on Monday after a picture of a sick child sleeping on a hospital floor prompted the prime minister’s first significant mis-step of the campaign. The UK held its general election yesterday (Thursday).
The row began when Boris Johnson refused to look at the photo of Jack Williment-Barr, who had been forced to lie on a pile of coats in a Leeds hospital last Tuesday because of a lack of beds. An oxygen mask lay beside the four-year-old boy. The image served to highlight the state of the NHS, one of the few areas on which the opposition Labour party is seen as somewhat more trusted than the Conservatives. It also underscored the perils of fighting an election in winter when the service is under maximum pressure.
As the incident escalated to dominate one of the final days of campaigning ahead of voting, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was hastily dispatched to Leeds General Infirmary to contain Tory vulnerabilities over the taxpayer-funded service.
During the campaign Labour consistently highlighted the faltering performance of the NHS, which in some polls has become the main issue for voters, outstripping Brexit.