Fury as Rishi Sunak claims NHS ‘has the funds it needs’ to tackle crisis

Fury as Rishi Sunak claims NHS ‘has the funds it needs’ to tackle crisis

Fury as Rishi Sunak claims NHS ‘has the funds it needs’ to tackle crisis

Rishi Sunak has said the NHS has all the funding it needs to tackle the crisis hitting hospitals, despite repeated warnings from healthcare leaders that immediate investment is needed to protect patients.

Healthcare officials have warned that the NHS is on a knife’s edge, with many A&Es struggling to keep up with the lawsuit and trusts and ambulance services declaring critical incidents.

On Tuesday, NHS leaders in London said ambulances would wait just 45 minutes to hand patients over to hospital staff. Experts believe that A&E problems are responsible for the deaths of up to 500 patients each week.

Critics said that claims that the NHS had sufficient resources were “an insult to all those suffering in hospital corridors or in the back of ambulances because the government refused to act sooner.”

Downing Street said the government has been “frank” with the public about the pressure facing the NHS this winter, with the prime minister’s official spokesman acknowledging that the health service faces an “unprecedented challenge”.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, accused Sunak of taking a stance that was “negligent, irresponsible and a risk to public health”.

The dispute erupted after No. 10 said the prime minister was “sure… we are providing the NHS with the funds it needs, and as we have done during the pandemic, to deal with these problems.”

But Downing Street conceded that some patients would find it difficult to access care, though he avoided the word crisis.

Dr Vishal Sharma, of the British Medical Association (BMA), who is voting young doctors to strike, responded by saying: “For staff working in the NHS or any patient desperately trying accessing care, it is clear to all that the NHS is completely broken. This did not happen overnight, but is a direct result of the government spending less on health and ignoring repeated warnings from staff about labor shortages, increased demand, and deteriorating infrastructure. ”.

Royal College of Nursing Secretary General Pat Cullen said: “Presenting you with a picture of an NHS on the brink of collapse, understaffed across the board, it’s hard to see how more funding couldn’t improve the situation.”

Adam Brimelow, director of communications for NHS Providers, said: “It is clear that the resources available to the NHS have not kept pace with the changing needs of the population.”

Others questioned the claim that the Covid buildup was to blame for the current crisis. Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said it was “false to blame the pandemic for the current situation”, warning of staffing issues, a lack of beds and capacity and a lack of social care, “all the problems that are due to the scarcity of resources”.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, admitted that the government had been “frank” about the challenges of this winter, but “the reality has been more intolerable and unbearable for staff and patients than anticipated.” .

Late on Tuesday, health secretary Steve Barclay blamed “individual pressures” from flu and covid, insisting the NHS was safe, saying: “We are putting more money in, we have more staff, more than 34,000 more employees working on the NHS.” , so there are more nurses, more doctors, we have an additional 7,500 for social care [and] looking for more support for home care.”

However, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS entered the pandemic with too many staff vacancies, a figure that now stands at more than 130,000, “and we were coming off the back of financial crunch more long in the history of the SNS”.

With another four days of strikes coming later this month, he also urged the government to reopen talks with unions over wages.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine warns that between 300 and 500 people die a week as a result of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care. NHS England has said it did not recognize these numbers, but Dr Ian Higginson, vice president of the university, accused political leaders of “a battle of machismo and denial”.

Sunak is under increasing pressure from Conservative MPs over crises escalating under his tenure. He is not due to make any public appearances this week, and officials insist he is hard at work inside Downing Street.

The last time they visited a hospital, both Mr. Sunak and Mr. Barclay were reprimanded by members of the public.

A former Tory minister warned that the chaotic scenes at the hospitals, combined with the week-long rail strike, “were not helping anyone… except Labour”.

Sunak is also facing growing calls within his own party to soften his stance on public sector wage increases.

A Tory MP said it was time for Sunak to commit to NHS pay, even if he stands firm in other sectors. The red wall MP said the current position was “untenable”.

“I don’t think saying, ‘We can’t afford it,’ is going to work,” said the parliamentarian. “You can’t keep seeing if the nurses or the government will win sympathy, you’re not going to win that.”

Former cabinet minister David Davis backed the government’s position on wages, but warned Sunak that he could lose the strike battle unless the government improves its arguments.

“What is a problem is the way the government is not really presenting its case,” he said. “People will die as a result of NHS union strikes. We have to make that point clear. I want the government to make it clear to the public that this comes at a price.”

Lib Dem health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said the idea of ​​the NHS being underfunded was “an insult to everyone suffering in hospital corridors or in the back of ambulances because the government refused to act before.”

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