Nurses absent from new health secretary’s list of priorities
Thérèse Coffey lists ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists as her priorities – infuriating nurses who complained the profession had been omitted
Nurses have reacted angrily to the omission of nurses from a list of priorities for the NHS mentioned by new health secretary Thérèse Coffey.
Ms Coffey, who was announced as health secretary on Tuesday, takes the reins at a critical time for the NHS as nurses prepare to vote on strike action over pay and healthcare leaders warn the NHS is in a ‘worst state than in living memory’.
Speaking briefly to Sky News, Ms Coffey said her priorities for healthcare were ‘ABCD’ – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists, adding: ‘We are going to work through that and make sure we are delivering for patients.’
Nurses missing from list of priorities despite being biggest healthcare workforce in NHS
Many nurses on Twitter were quick to point out that nurses were missing from the list of priorities despite being the biggest healthcare workforce in the NHS.
One nurse wrote: ‘What about the 47,000 nursing vacancies? And possible industrial action in the near future? Nurses forgotten again.’
Another said: ‘Sorry nurses you seem to be too far down alphabetically to get a mention. You’re only the backbone of the NHS.’
Many nurses said Ms Coffey should be prepared for a strike by nurses – with some 300,000 nurses set to be balloted on potential strike action over this year’s pay offer.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘She should start at the other end of the alphabet with W for workforce.’
Healthcare leaders have warned Ms Coffey that she is inheriting a health service on its knees, calling on the government to have ‘razor sharp focus’ on the NHS.
NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘This is crucial because our 23rd health secretary has inherited an NHS and social care system in a worst state than in living memory.
‘Immediate support is needed for the NHS but with over 130,000 vacancies and a real-terms funding cut that could stretch to £9.4 billion this year, there is no quick or easy way out of these deep-rooted problems.’
Don’t duck the ‘big issues’ of pay, severely stretched services and workforce shortages, says NHS Providers
NHS Providers chief executive Saffron Cordery urged the new health secretary to ‘not duck these big issues’, referring to pay, severely stretched services and workforce shortages.
Ms Cordery said: ‘The government's failure to fully fund this year's below-inflation pay awards, alongside ongoing concerns over punitive pension taxation for senior staff, is making it even harder to recruit and keep the staff we so desperately need. This, in turn, directly impacts on patient care.’
In various media rounds, Ms Coffey said the government was on track to deliver thousands of extra nurses in the NHS but reiterated that her main priority was patients and delivering more primary care appointments.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.
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