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Health unions' letter urges Jeremy Hunt to 'stop and listen to the people that know the NHS best'

The RCN and other health unions have written a letter to the government demanding it releases emergency funds for the NHS

RCN and other health unions have written a letter to the government demanding it releases emergency funds for the NHS.

  • RCN, Unison, Royal College of Midwives, TUC and BMA among signatories to letter
  • Winter crisis 'isn't a one-off', but the 'direct impact of government decisions and cuts'
  • Extra £1.6 billion pledged in November's budget came 'far too late'
Trolley waits
The letter to the health and social care secretary states 'the NHS is in the depths of an acute
winter health crisis' with patients 'stranded, treated, and sometimes dying, on trolleys in corridors'

RCN director of membership relations Chris Cox has added his signature to a letter calling on health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘stop and listen to the people that know the NHS best’ – its staff.

The letter from the unions, including Unison and the Royal College of Midwives, says 'the NHS is in the depths of an acute winter health crisis’ with patients ‘stranded, treated, and sometimes dying, on trolleys in corridors’ due to overcrowded wards.

The letter adds: ‘The sad thing is, this crisis isn’t a one-off. It’s the direct impact of decisions from your department and by your government.

‘The result of years of cuts to services and wages, and damaging staff shortages.’

NHS under incredible strain

November’s budget saw the government pledge an extra £1.6 billion for the health service in 2018-19, with £350 million being made available to cover the immediate winter period.

However, the letter continues: ‘The extra resources for the NHS in November’s budget came far too late and weren’t nearly enough.

‘The impending flu epidemic is, of course, added pressure, but it masks the biggest threat facing the NHS – it simply doesn’t have enough staff.

‘Despite the incredible strain the NHS is under, it’s still treasured by the British people, and still a concern for them.

‘More than an institution, the NHS is an ideal they hold dear.

‘That is thanks to those who work in it. They continue to work in an overstretched service for declining wages and under incredibly difficult conditions.'

Dedicated staff working beyond end of shifts

The letter adds that health employees could earn more working elsewhere yet often stay 'way beyond the end of their shifts, to hold the NHS together so it can treat everyone who’s ill or in pain'.

‘This winter crisis will give the NHS a hangover that lasts all year long. But it doesn’t have to be like this,' it reads.

‘It’s not too late. Stop and listen to the people that know the NHS best. Who see with their own eyes every day how bad things have got.

‘Fund it better and do so now, for all our sakes.’

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