THE biggest test of any government is how it copes with a crisis. In that regard Theresa May is failing miserably to deal with one of the biggest tests of her stormy career.

Jeremy Hunt has apologised to patients after tens of thousands of operations were postponed this week. The Health Secretary admitted there were pressures facing the health service as NHS England urged hospitals to defer procedures such as hip replacements until the end of January to free up hospital beds and staff, amid reports many hospitals were plunged into crisis over the festive period.

Doctors leaders have warned of pressures on every part of the system, from GP surgeries to community care, while social care shortages mean patients who are well enough to leave are trapped in hospital.

Theresa May acknowledged the news was frustrating for affected patients but said the NHS was “better prepared for this winter than ever before”.

Her words will ring hollow for anyone whose treatment is being cancelled, or for those people in the North-East being told they’ll have to wait nine hours for an ambulance or that they’ll need to use other means of transport.

Doctors, nurses and support staff are in most cases brilliant, hard-working people grappling with an almost impossible situation. But there seems little doubt that patients will die and families will suffer because of the pressure the NHS is being put under.

Mrs May’s “keep calm and carry on” approach smacks of someone horribly out of touch with a national crisis.