PMQs: Let’s test Theresa’s NHS claims

[Image: Daily Mirror.]

Prime Minister’s Questions today (January 24) was the fiasco we have come to expect during Theresa May’s premiership.

This week, Stormin’ Jeremy Corbyn put her on the back foot over the NHS Winter Crisis – or “winter pessures”, as Mrs May described the issue at one flustered point.

The main thrust of her feeble replies was that throwing money at the NHS won’t help – it needs better working practices.

The simple reply would be to throw Jeremy Hunt’s recent disastrous tweet about such practices back at her:

The world and his wife (who happens to be a nurse, of course) lined up to point out that Mr Hunt had just dropped possibly the worst clanger of his Twitter career (although his refusal to debate his failings with actor Ralf Little is a strong contender for the prize). This response seems self-explanatory:

That’s not good working practice, then.

But that’s just an isolated example. How is the NHS actually performing?

I thought I’d have a trawl through a few recent mentions of it on Twitter – the fastest-reacting of the social media – to find out. Here we go:

“A look at the typical day of an NHS nurse makes it clear why last year 33,000 nurses left the NHS, 3,000 more than were recruited… If you take a look at the average daily workload of an NHS nurse, you can see how it would drive any but the most committed to leave the underpaid and undervalued profession.”

“The only way to improve retention and begin to reverse the outflow of nurses from the NHS is to reduce their workloads to a safe, manageable level. This means more nursing staff on wards and in community services. There is a remarkably simple policy solution to this which has worked well in other countries; mandatory minimum safe staffing levels, enforced in law.”

This (and Mr Hunt’s tweet) makes it very clear that the NHS has unsafe staffing levels under the Conservatives.

“Funding has simply grown too slowly for too long: at an average of a little over 1 per cent a year since the Cameron government arrived in 2010, compared to an average of 4 per cent over the life of the NHS. This sustained slowdown occurred while the population was growing, so real spending per head has actually fallen.”

I’ve been saying this for years, but try telling the BBC!

“Taking account of inflation, an average hospital is given just £760 this year to treat a patient they’d have received £1,000 for in 2010, according to the Nuffield Trust. The little relief offered in the Budget (amounting to a modest funding boost of 0.7 per cent per head next year, and next to nothing after that) will be overwhelmed by huge cuts to public health and social care.”

So much for Mrs May’s claim that Philip Hammond had provided £6 billion for the NHS in his last budget. Mr Corbyn pointed out that it was £2.8bn per year, spread like “thin gruel”. Now we see it’s a 0.7 per cent increase per person.

“Many affluent middle-class people—especially those aged over 60—are choosing not to wait, and making their own arrangements in the private sector… All the big players are reporting double-digit growth in self-pay—sales to people who are uninsured but choose to pay out of pocket (or on a credit card)… Private hospitals do not employ their consultants directly, and are not legally liable when things go wrong… The lack of accountability was thrust into the spotlight when 750 private patients (mostly at Spire hospitals) who had fallen victim to the disgraced cancer surgeon, Ian Paterson, were awarded less in compensation on average than Paterson’s NHS victims.”

So going private just exposes patients to worse practice with less compensation when things go wrong.

“Something has changed within the NHS, community beds have been lost, smaller hospitals have been closed, mental health services have been starved of funding and jobs cut, funding has been cut year on year, these are just a few examples I can give.

“The numbers of acutely unwell patients coming into the emergency departments is increasing but the services and facilities available to us is declining.

There are a lack of community and rehab beds meaning patients remain in hospital despite being medically fit.

“This has a knock-on effect with new admissions meaning there is just no space. Escalation beds are then made within acute care units meaning the nursing and medical staff have to care for more patients but having no extra staff to help with the extra work load.

“The demand is so much on so few that you are in a position that you are just trying to keep people alive and prevent harm.

“You inform management about the unsafe nature of the unit and they give you a sympathetic look, there is nothing they can do, every ward is exactly the same, there is no one to help.

“The NHS should be the envy of the world but it has been treated so poorly that even with all the will and dedication of all staff involved it is struggling to provide even basic care.

“I ask you if you were a builder would you work for a company that made you cut corners due to demand resulting in unsafe building practices, could you live with that?

“If you worked in catering could you work for a restaurant that was under so much pressure that you were not sure if the food you served was safe for consumption. Could you, with a conscience carry on?

It is no different with nursing, please do not presume that we are weak, we are strong, we have stood up for the job we were trained to do and we refuse to compromise care. Not in our name. Until the environment is safe again I will not return.”

A rat leaving the sinking ship? No.

This nurse is representative of people who have done everything they can within the NHS system, and been ignored or suppressed by the Tory regime.

What else can they do to express their concern, other than walk out?

Here’s Peter Stefanovic’s take on the situation – as usual, he’s right on the button:

So, what are we to make of the above?


1. There is nothing wrong with the NHS that a little extra funding won’t solve.

2. Staff shortages are being caused by failings in management.

3. Patients who run away to pay for private care are literally taking their lives in their hands.

And, most importantly of all:

4. By allowing the Conservatives to form another government, we have put the NHS in the hands of the most incompetent managers possible.

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4 thoughts on “PMQs: Let’s test Theresa’s NHS claims

  1. NMac

    How much longer, I wonder, will May’s term of office in No 10 last. Speculation is again rife that the Tories are ready to dump her? Who, I wonder, would replace her. All deeply worrying for the NHS and the country.

  2. nivekd

    Number 1? I’d say a LOT more cash plus reinstatement of a comprehensive, free, public NATIONAL health service. Replace and augment the lost staff and the lost beds and the lost hospitals. Stop the delusion of self-care. Nationalise the social care system. Re-Fund local authorities. Reverse all cuts.

  3. Rik

    I was so mad watching pmq today that I actually screamed at the TV!! All the lies and unanswered/twisted replies fron May’s lips
    Surley they cannot carry on like this can they??

  4. John

    Did anyone notice that the Daily Politics with Kunnesbrurg and Neill after PMQs just chose to ignore it and talked about some Exit Brexit Committee instead and then some attack on some Hard Left Haringey Council the NEC and Housing So the NHS is not to be mentioned if in PMQs ?

Comments are closed.