The Tory leadership contenders have been accused of being ‘worryingly bare’ on health policy ideas to solve the crisis the NHS is currently grappling with.
As NHS bosses warn that soaring energy bills will make people sick if the government fails to offer more support, the country’s two prospective prime ministers have been criticised of complacency about the NHS crisis.
Healthcare leaders have warned that thousands will become ill as a result of being unable to afford to heat their homes this winter, and many will die from the cold.
The NHS Confederation, the membership body for organisations that commission and provide NHS services, has said Britain is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis” as we head towards winter.
In a letter to government ministers, the Confederation’s chief executive Matthew Taylor said:
“The country is facing a humanitarian crisis.
“Many people could face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions.
“This in turn could lead to outbreaks of illness and sickness around the country and widen health inequalities, worsen children’s life chances and leave an indelible scar on local communities.”
Taylor added that these outbreaks of illness will strike “just as the NHS is likely to experience the most difficult winter on record,” as the threat of more Covid variants and flu outbreak looms.
“Health leaders are clear that, unless urgent action is taken by the government, this will cause a public health emergency,” he continued.
Tory leadership hopefuls ‘worryingly bare’ on health polices
Amid the warnings, both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been accused of being “worryingly bare” on health policy ideas to solve the crisis in the NHS.
A report by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) criticises Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for offering no ideas to sort out the crisis currently engulfing the National Health Service, including 6.6 million people on NHS waiting lists, gridlock in emergency departments, around 105,000 staff vacancies in social care, and more.
The BMJ asked the two PM candidates’ campaign teams about their plans to tackle the crisis. Prime Minister Sunak would tackle waiting list issues by establishing a “backlogs taskforce”, which would audit waiting list and then contact patients on waiting lists longer than 18 weeks. According to the BMJ, in reality, this could mean more work for the NHS, not less.
On tackling capacity issues, Sunak would accelerate the use of specialist hubs for elective surgery and give more work to the private sector to “alleviate the strain on the NHS.” The BMJ says Sunak’s plan to fine people £10 for missed GP appointments would “apart from anything else”, “lead to yet more unwanted administration and hassle for the NHS.”
Meanwhile, Liz Truss’ campaign team failed to offer a single idea on how to help the NHS, the BMJ reports, adding “the focus seems to be squarely on cutting taxes and minimising any talk of a crisis.”
Truss argued for cutting doctors’ pay
Condemnation of the candidates’ ‘complacency’ over healthcare policies and tackling the NHS crisis comes as an unearthed document shows PM frontrunner Liz Truss argued for cutting doctors’ pay by 10 percent and called for patients to be charged to see their GP.
The document, which was co-authored by Truss and revealed by TalkTV, states: “User charges should be introduced and there should be greater reliance upon other health professionals… for treating less serious ailments.
“Reduce the pay of doctors and NHS managers by 10%.”
Following details of the damning document surfacing, Truss’s campaign insisted that “co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward.”
Labour however hit back, saying Truss “can’t be trusted to protect an NHS she doesn’t believe in or doctors she doesn’t value.”
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
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