Labour says reform NHS – nurses say investment is what’s needed
Shadow health secretary says health service must ‘modernise or die’, but nursing leaders argue that increased funding for NHS workforce and services is more urgent than reform
Nursing leaders have called for urgent investment in the NHS and social care workforce as Labour MP Wes Streeting warned that the health service ‘must modernise or die’ in his party conference speech.
The shadow health secretary told the event in Liverpool on Wednesday that reforms are more important than funding when it comes to improving the NHS, and vowed to turn the health service ‘on its head.’
NHS crisis is ‘existential’
Mr Streeting said: ‘I’m blunt about the fact that the NHS is no longer the envy of the world, not to undermine it, but to reassure people that we’ve noticed.
‘I argue that our NHS must modernise or die, not as a threat but a choice. The crisis really is that existential.’
But, responding to the speech, many nurses said they were ‘worried’ about Mr Streeting’s rhetoric and his lack of commitment to invest in the workforce.
Fix the staffing problem, says union
RCN chief nurse Nicola Ranger said: ‘If our NHS is to be the envy of the world again, with quality social care to match – they each need both investment and reform.
‘High quality social care, delivered by professionals who are fairly rewarded and well trained, is what we all want in later life or times of need. Any future government will not get record patient waiting lists down while the NHS is short of tens of thousands of nursing staff.’
NHS Providers chief executive Julian Hartley echoed this sentiment on X (formerly known as Twitter):
‘Many staff are visiting food banks’
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said Labour’s vision for the NHS must come with a clear workforce plan that includes the reversal of real-terms pay cuts.
She added: ‘We cannot fix the NHS if we don’t reverse the crippling staff shortages. And we can’t do that if we don’t improve pay and conditions.
‘Dedicated staff are leaving in droves because they cannot make ends meet, many are visiting food banks. There is a real opportunity here to invest in the NHS and its staff.’
Another commentator on X said:
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