NHS Chief Slams Government's Attempts At Reform: 'As Popular As Cup Of Cold Sick'

"We are in a crisis right now, people are on strike, government needs to get round the table, Victor Adebowale told BBC Question Time.

The government’s approach to the ongoing strikes within the health service are as popular as a “cup of cold sick”, according to the chair of the NHS Confederation.

Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS confederation, told Thursday’s BBC Question Time how it was time that a proper plan to increase pay was put in place to help the health service out of the crisis it is already in.

Nurses, ambulance drivers and potentially junior doctors are all pushing back against low public sector pay – amid the cost of living crisis, inflation and a looming recession – as well as their difficult working conditions.

Suggesting it was well past the time for the government to actually take action, Adebowale said: “I was in hospital the other day – if I went to nurses, who were looking after people in corridors and said, ’You know what, what we need now is reform,′ right, it would be about as popular as a cup of cold sick.”

He said the only way to move forward was to acknowledge firstly that “we are in a crisis right now, people are on strike, government needs to get round the table.”

The audience broke out in applause at this suggestion. The government has mostly refused to intervene with pay negotiations between any public sector workers and their employers.

Adebowale continued: ″We need a proper workforce plan, by which we mean a long-term workforce plan, so we know how many nurses we need now, how many nurses we need in the future, what we’re going to need to do, what they’re going to need to be paid.

“And thirdly, we need to stick with the reforms we’ve just had. Remember in July, we passed, and there was general cross-party support for this, a bill that created integrated care systems, Population Health, they’ve just got started.

“We need to start creating healthy communities so we need hospitals less – my members would love that.”

So far, the government has offered a one-off payment for NHS workers.

The NHS was one of the hot topics on Question Time this week amid the ongoing strikes and fears about its general future.

The mother of a nurse spoke from the audience and said that most of her daughter’s cohort chose not to stay in the NHS and moved abroad instead.

She said they’re “sick and tired of the pressures, of the agency staff who don’t turn up, and just being dumped on all the time”.

The audience member continued: “Nobody ever talks about the morale of staffing in the NHS very much.

“But that is a major issue, they go into nursing, not for the fancy salary, [but because] they want to make a difference and they can’t because they don’t have enough staff.”

She added that the vacancies in the nursing sector “having been going on for years” and “successive governments have kicked the can down the road for years” because it’s costly.

“We have to decide – do we want an NHS or don’t we? Because that’s what it is coming to.”


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