The NHS, and its sister organisations across the UK, are in dreadful shape. At best, a doctor would prescribe bed rest, at worst amputations. Waiting lists, overstressed doctors, Whitehall setting targets on the basis of focus group findings, and now the appointment of Andy Burnham conspire to load malady after malady on the services.

A report in the Guardian today makes clear that NHS staff disproportionately suffer from stress, ill-health, obesity and mental illness. Damn straight. If Andy Burnham was my minister I’d be comfort eating, banging my head off walls, drinking like a fish and smoking like a train.

Our doctors, nurses and administrative support staff all do an incredible job, against the backdrop of a complacent and increasingly dreadful department led by a man whose apparent key skill is to look like he’s literally climbing into the camera lens during his sneering, politically nonsensical interviews.

But now, far worse than the government’s apparent general paralysis, is the wilful and ill-conceived ‘ilovethenhs’ bullshit the automata of the Labour party are peddling every day now through social media channels.

The NHS is in a bad way. It’s expensive, it’s overloaded, it’s misdirected, poorly valued and abused by governments and public alike.  Because it’s supposedly a British tradition like fish and chips, bangers and mash and getting the shit kicked out of oneself in a High Street on a Saturday night, we’re not supposed to question it, we’re supposed to give it slavish loyalty and pretend that, even when it’s sick, it’s perfectly fine and beyond improvement.  Yet there is no sane human being who can look at the NHS and not see things seriously wrong with it that they would not rather fix.  Cue Andy Burnham and the Prime Mentalist.

The Labour party is desperate to find something positive to associate with themselves, hence the ‘Labour’s NHS’ rhetoric recently. But by defending the NHS without qualification, they risk misleading the public here and abroad on the state of the service.  They go on to lie about Conservative plans on the health service, obliquely and without foundation allowing the innuendo to continue to the effect that Conservatives would seek to abolish it.

There is no doubt the NHS is sick, its staff are stressed and that the people of the UK need a strong and effective health-service free at the point of delivery.  What Conservatives need to be clear on is that the leader’s policy, and the policy of the Conservative Party, is to support the NHS, continue to fund it, ring-fence the cash available to it, and take care of its staff.

This government ran out of ideas in 2004, and ran out of decent ministers before that. Their dreadful dithering and failure to genuinely impact positively since then on the embattled health service will be their legacy.  They can run all the social media campaigns they wish, they can attack phantom threats from MEPs with no power to influence policy all they wish; they can say they love the service to their little hearts’ content, but the people will see through the disaster that is their mishandling of the service, and will welcome, as the doctors will, a bit of Tory commonsense to sort out the patient.