Tory NHS plan will not fix shortage of doctors and nurses, says Wes Streeting | Wes Streeting

Wes Streeting has criticized a “huge hole” in the Conservatives’ next NHS plan, which he said would do little to address a shortage of doctors, nurses and health workers that is fueling workforce delays and discontent.

The shadow health secretary said doctors and nurses considering industrial action in the coming months were not only worried about salary, but about the “moral damage” they were suffering because they were unable to provide the best care to patients. due to lack of staff and weight of demand.

“They just don’t feel the cavalry coming,” Streeting said in an interview with The Guardian.

“What NHS staff are crying out for is a credible workforce plan. They know that it will not be delivered overnight. But at the moment, we see no sign of that long-term thinking.

“And I am deeply distressed that we have a new Secretary of State, the third in six months… who seems to be dodging the biggest challenge facing the National Government.” Health Service, and I’m afraid if you don’t come up with a credible workforce plan, it’s hard to take seriously.”

Therese Coffey will be deliver a new plan for the NHS on Tuesday, which the Department of Health and Social Care says will focus on new ways of tackling what it called the ABCD of problems: ambulances; arrears; watch out; and doctors

There will be a focus on late discharges as well as long waits for GP appointments.

Prior to the statement, Streeting called on the health secretary to immediately correct doctors’ pensions, to allow doctors to stay on the service longer, and direct additional social care funding toward retention of care workers.

He also said the government should announce the return of the “vaccine army” of volunteer vaccinators to help ease pressure on GP surgeries administering flu, monkeypox and covid vaccines.

Streeting said NHS figures show it is short 10,500 doctors and 47,000 nurses, but an actual workforce plan could not be produced until there had been an independent assessment of the shortage.

Earlier this year, the government blocked an amendment to the health and care bill, orchestrated by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, that would have required ministers to commission an independent assessment of the number of doctors and nurses needed for the next 5, 10 and 20 years.

Streeting said this summer had already seen the NHS face a crisis worse than the most severe of the winter crises so far. Ambulance call response times, A&E waits and the number of patients waiting more than a year for an operation have all reached record levels.

“Unless they fix the fundamental problem, which is the huge staffing shortage in the NHS, they have no hope of rescuing the NHS and building an NHS fit for the future,” he said.

Streeting said the government had signaled it was likely to further relax visa regulations to allow more foreign staff to come to work in the NHS, saying it was an “inevitable short-term solution”, but said the move was ” unethical because we “are taking staff from countries that desperately need them.”

He asked Coffey to fund more places for medical students after cutting 3,000 places this year.

“We are turning away a large number of outstanding students from medical courses at the university because there are no places available,” he said. “We are losing care workers to people like Amazon.

“And yet people see those places as more attractive employers than social care and all of this is creating a perfect storm because we have 400,000 delayed discharges every month.”

This month, 300,000 nurses across the UK will receive ballot papers on industrial action and the BMA also plans to vote for young doctors.

Streeting, whose party has taken a neutral approach to strikes and banned shadow ministers from joining pickets, said he could understand the conditions were unacceptable to NHS staff.

“They go home at the end of the day, not only exhausted and burnt out, but they suffer moral damage, because they have great anxiety,” said the Ilford North MP. “They have not given patients the quality of care they deserve.”

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