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A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives has revealed that NHS Wales had to spend £190 million on agency doctors and nurses in the last four years. Shame on NHS Wales, right?
Well, no. This merely demonstrates the cack-handed way the Conservatives have been running the health service since taking office as part of the Coalition Government in 2010.
Does anybody remember reports last year that the Conservative-led Coalition Government had dumped 4,000 senior nurses since 2010, considering them to be “disposable” and “a quick way to save money”?
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said at the time: “We are facing a Europe-wide shortage of nursing staff and the last thing the NHS should be doing at this time is treating its highly experienced staff as disposable.
“We need to be doing everything we can to retain the skills we have in the NHS rather than using them as a quick and easy way to make savings.”
These words clearly fell on deaf ears in the Department of Health, which continued to cut nursing staff. Cuts in health spending in England are mirrored, via the Barnett formula, in funding provided to the devolved health services elsewhere in the UK, meaning that the Welsh Government has had to reduce money provided for other services in order to address the cut in spending – and service standard – caused by Tory changes.
That has taken several years to accomplish – as this blog has made clear in previous articles. The Westminster government’s grant to Wales has been cut by a massive 10 per cent since 2010.
And what has happened to our highly-qualified NHS staff members in the meantime? It seems they have been attracted abroad by foreign health services that treat their workforce with more respect.
Vox Political commenter karenmarieuk, responding to a recent article, told us: “My daughter now lives in South Africa and is treated by British staff at both her GP surgery and her local hospital.”
She asked: “Why do our health care professionals have to emigrate to earn the respect they deserve? Our nursing staff are canvassed regularly by Australia, being offered incentives such as housing and vastly improved lifestyles as well as pay that puts the UK to shame! This is just one country from many.
“When, I wonder, will the UK stop this mass exodus and try keeping staff here?”
When indeed? Never, under a Conservative government.
The Welsh Tories have shot themselves in the foot (again) with their ridiculous claims following this FoI request. The total amount spent on agency staff by NHS Wales comes to 1/120 of funding every year, to be compared with the 10 per cent cut from Conservative and Conservative-led Westminster governments.
Conservative politics has caused the problem, not a Labour-run health service.
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