By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 30 January 2023 • 12:11
NHS waiting lists - Image Pong Moji / Shutterstock.com
Responding to questions from journalists Sunak said that the plans represented the biggest shake-up for the NHS in a decade. Continuing he added that a workforce plan was being worked on that he hoped would deliver the long-term resources and change that staff working for the organisation were looking for.
But he reiterated in the short term that it was important that the budget was best spent, with many hospitals needing upgrades, new equipment and additional resources.
Speaking in Country Durham he said he didn’t want to put up taxes to pay for these things, adding that no one wants this and that is a major constraint.
But he said he needed to balance the expenditure, that it was important to get a grip on the cost of living. He added that it would be the wrong thing to do to give high pay increases given what it would cost everyone in the long run.
He said he was appreciative of the work that nurses do but it was the right thing to do to limit pay increases given the situation we find ourselves in.
The two-year plan revealed by the government and the NHS said that 5,000 more sustainable beds would be funded through an extra dedicated £1 billion fund. The money they said would also be used to provide 800 more ambulances and 100 specialist mobile mental health units.
Sunak described the plan as “ambitious and credible” according to Sky News on Monday, January 30, with the money having been announced in Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement.
Key to the plan is care in the community with people being treated locally or in their own homes, plus the setting up of same-day emergency care units in every hospital A&E department.
Sunak, who had made NHS waiting times one of his five priorities, said: “Urgent and emergency care is facing serious challenges but we have an ambitious and credible plan to fix it.”
“It will take time to get there but our plan will cut long waiting times by increasing the number of ambulances, staff and beds – stopping the bottlenecks outside A&E and making sure patients are seen and discharged quickly.
“If we meet this ambition, it will represent one of the fastest and longest sustained improvements in emergency waiting times in NHS history.”
But Labour has criticised the proposals saying that it will water down services for patients, with these including:
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the NHS on a sustainable footing.”
But Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation warned: “Success over the next two years will not only depend on NHS staff continuing to go above and beyond, but also on concerted action to reduce the numbers of people needing to come into contact with emergency and urgent care services in the first place.”
Implementation of the plan will, however, be dependent on Sunak’s ability to bring the dispute with nurses and ambulance workers to an end. That doesn’t look likely anytime soon with the Health Secretary having ruled out meeting their demands saying the move was not affordable.
This as companies providing relief staff advertise jobs for as much as £45 an hour, more than double what staff within the NHS earn.
How under pressure Sunak is going to staff the 800 extra ambulances and 5,000 extra beds, he has not said.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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