It is generally acknowledged that the NHS could have been better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. It entered the crisis with just 8,000 ventilators and so few testing kits that it remains unable to determine even how many of its staff have the virus. Medical professionals still complain of a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment.
The lack of equipment means that medics sometimes have no choice but to make tough life-or-death choices about who receives ventilators and life-saving treatment. They are assisted in such rationing by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which has introduced new triage tests such as the Clinical Frailty Scale.
Under this particular test, patients are assessed and given a score out of 9. Put bluntly, if they score below five (very fit to moderately frail) they might qualify for life-saving treatment, but any higher and they might not.