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Doctors criticise ‘delusional’ Rishi Sunak for denying NHS is in crisis | NHS

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Doctors criticise ‘delusional’ Rishi Sunak for denying NHS is in crisis | NHS

The doctors have accused Rishi Sunak of being “delusional” after he denied the NHS was in crisis and insisted it had the money it needed to deal with rising winter illnesses.

Amid mounting anger over shortages and delays that could be causing needless deaths, doctors and opposition parties reacted with scorn, anger and disbelief to comments made by the prime minister’s official spokesman at a briefing in Downing Street.

Doctors say there are problems accessing NHS urgent and emergency services could be causing up to 500 preventable deaths a week.

Asked if the health service in England was in crisis, the spokesman indicated they disagreed, saying instead: “This is certainly an unprecedented challenge for the National Health Servicecaused by a number of factors, the most significant being the global pandemic.

“We are confident that we are providing the NHS with the funds it needs, as we have during the pandemic, to address these issues.”

Sunak’s spokesman acknowledged that many people were having great difficulty seeing a GP, getting an ambulance and seeking help from A&E, amid intense pressure on the NHS.

“For a number of people who are looking to access the NHS this winter, it will be very difficult because of some of these huge challenges that the pandemic in particular has thrown at us.”

But the spokesman defended the government’s efforts to winterize the NHS. “What I am saying is that we recognized ahead of time that this would be a challenging winter, and we have tried to implement a number of measures to mitigate these challenges.”

Dr Vishal Sharma, chairman of the British Medical Association’s advisory committee, which represents the majority of British doctors, responded with amazement at the comments.

“To staff working in the NHS or any patient desperately trying to access care, No 10’s refusal to admit that the NHS is in crisis will seem like wishful thinking. To try to ensure that ministers are confident that the NHS has all the funding it needs, at a time when families see other relatives in pain at home or in hospital trolleys, is to play the public for a fool.

“Furthermore, the attempt to portray this winter’s crisis as the result of the pandemic and not the result of more than a decade of policy choices to reduce investment in the NHS and its workforce is little more than an attempt to rewrite history,” Sharma said. .

Anyone seeking care or treatment these days “can see that the NHS is clearly broken,” he added. Its rapid deterioration “did not happen overnight, but is the direct result of the government spending less on health and ignoring repeated warnings from staff about labor shortages, rising demand, and collapsing infrastructure,” he said.

Dr Adrian Boyle, head of the body representing Britain’s A&E doctors, said Sunak’s view that Covid was the main reason for the NHS being overloaded was “false”.

Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said hospitals could not offer rapid care to the record number of people seeking help amid a surge in infections such as flu and covid because England’s NHS had failed to deliver on its promise. to create an additional 7,000 beds to help the health service get through this winter. It had provided just 1,742 more for Christmas, Boyle said. The NHS denied the claim and sources said the actual number was more than 3,000.

Hospitals were struggling because the number of beds had not increased, Boyle said. “I am concerned that the promise of 7,000 more beds for this winter has not been fulfilled because we need the capacity within our hospitals to admit patients. We have these long waits in the emergency departments and in the ambulance service because our hospitals are full, because we don’t have enough beds.”

But NHS England sources said Boyle’s claim was unfair because he promised to provide the 7,000 beds through a combination of additional hospital beds, discharge more patients medically fit to leave and increase the number of sick who are cared for in “virtual pavilions”, where they stay at home, their condition is monitored and they are visited by health professionals. And the deadline for delivery was March, they said.

On Sunak’s views, Boyle added: “It is false to blame the current situation on the pandemic. There is no doubt that Covid made a bad situation worse, but the structural problems were there long before.

“The performance of emergency care has been deteriorating for almost a decade, a consequence of broader staffing problems within the NHS, a lack of beds and capacity, and a lack of social care – all problems due to the lack of resources.

An NHS spokesman said: “These claims are categorically false and exclude thousands of additional beds and bed equivalents already delivered by the NHS through investment in community care, discharge and virtual wards, ahead of ambition to deliver the equivalent to 7,000 additional beds. late March”.

Dr Kamila Hawthorne, President of the Royal College of GPShe joined those who rebuked Sunak, also stressing that the NHS’s inability to do its job was putting patients at risk.

“The NHS is in a terrible crisis. From general practice to emergency departments and across the NHS, everyone on the front lines is saying the same thing: the pressures we are working under are unsustainable and unsafe for patients.

“The situation the NHS finds itself in and the impact this is having on patients and frontline staff should not be downplayed. It must be recognized and addressed.”

Hawthorne and Boyle said the NHS’s problems could be fixed if the government committed enough money and came up with a detailed plan to tackle chronic staff shortages.

Opposition parties ridiculed the prime minister. “This is an insult to everyone suffering in hospital corridors or in the back of ambulances because the government refused to act sooner. Rishi Sunak is in complete denial of the damage done to the NHS by years of underinvestment and recruitment failures,” said Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrats health spokesperson.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, tweeted: “Everything is ‘pretty normal’ on the NHS according to the government. This amazing complacency at least explains why Rishi Sunak and [health secretary] Steve Barclay is nowhere to be seen. Negligent, irresponsible and a risk to public health.”

The NHS Confederation urged ministers to make renewed efforts to prevent the strikes by nurses and ambulance staff who will discontinue NHS care for the next three weeks, starting January 11.

“It is really important that, when ministers go back to their desks, they consider ways to reopen negotiations with the unions because four days of strike action on top of the situation we find ourselves in now is the last thing we need,” said Matthew Taylor. , the executive director of the organization.

At least a dozen NHS trusts in England, including regional ambulance services, were forced to declare a “critical incident” over the festive period because they could not cope with the level of demand for care they were facing.

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