The facts about health service pay: If NHS Wales is having to employ agency staff, perhaps it is because the Conservative Government does not provide enough funding for NHS employees. Maybe this is why so many have been lured abroad by higher pay and better standards of living.
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.
Vox Political has been made aware that some Tories are passing false information about the Welsh Government’s health spending since the Coalition started cutting its grant to Wales – by a total of 10 per cent since 2010.
If any readers see Tweets, Facebook posts or blog articles alleging NHS expenditure at a certain amount and then claiming that the Welsh Government cut spending rather than Westminster, show them the following – it’s the actual NHS Wales expenditure for 2010-2013:
(Source: Statistics for Wales (@statisticswales) 11/6/14)
If healthcare had been budgeted in line with the cut from Westminster, the figure would have been £4.82 billion in 2015-16. There was £150 million ‘extra’ in 2013-14, £570 million ‘extra’ in 2014-15, and will be £420 million ‘extra’ in 2015-16. I don’t have figures for 2013-14.
I can’t provide totals because health spending in the statistical release is different from health and social services spending in the Welsh Budgets for the last few years, and the plan for next year. It wouldn’t be comparing like-for-like and I’m not about to fall into Jeremy Hunt-style statistical abuse.
Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates the size of the Department for Work and Pensions’ latest exaggeration of the truth. He seems to think it’s comparatively small!
Here’s a fascinating letter to Jay Danielle Waller from her MP, which she posted to the Facebook page of The People Vs The Government, DWP and Atos, describing it as “full of rhetoric and LIES”.
Let’s go through it together and pick out some of the choicer morsels.
“Thank you for your email. To be frank with you with regards to your first point, I am afraid I will not be demanding a vote of no confidence against the Coalition government. The reforms that are being implemented are absolutely necessary and absolutely right given the utterly disastrous legacy we inherited from the last government.
“Your final point about the NHS is one which I have heard many times before. There are numerous myths and falsities surrounding our reforms which need to be corrected. Firstly, NHS spending is increasing in real-terms in each year of this Parliament. [A lie. Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, has demonstrated a real-terms cut in NHS spending since the Coalition government took over] Indeed, the former Labour Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, famously called any real-terms increase in spending “irresponsible.” [He said he would protect levels of spending] Secondly, we’ve also seen 6,000 new doctors and 7,000 less managers since May 2010, lowest waiting times in history and almost the total abolition of mixed-gender wards. This is opposite to the Labour-run health service in Wales where there have been deep cuts in health spending [They love talking about Wales, where the Labour-run administration must make the best decisions possible on how to spend the rapidly-decreasing allowance it receives from the Coalition-run Westminster government – a real-terms funding cut of £2.1 billion. In Wales, there has been no reduction in frontline staff, especially nurses, unlike in England].
“I’m afraid for the reasons stated above I am unable to accept your sentiments or your request that I demand a vote of no confidence against the government. While my reply may not satisfy all of your concerns, I sincerely hope I have at least explained my reasoning.
“Thank you once again for getting in touch. It’s always interesting to hear my constituents’ issues and concerns. If I can be of any more assistance with this or any other matter – local or national – please do not hesistate to get in contact again.”
Now, fellow blogger Jayne Linney, together with Debbie Sayers, has launched a petition on the Change.org website, demanding that Iain Duncan Smith be made to account for his – and his department’s – questionable use of statistics.
“As two disabled people affected by the benefit changes, we’re fed up with the spin,” they wrote in a joint statement. “That’s why we’ve started a petition on Change.org calling for Iain Duncan Smith to be held accountable for his use of statistics which, according to reports, is in question. Click here to sign.
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