Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

RCN warns that Rishi Sunak is failing patients and hurting the economy

The Royal College of Nursing warned the Prime Minister that the NHS was deteriorating rapidly under his watch.

In a week that saw Britain hit by the biggest industrial action in more than a decade with around half a million workers in several sectors on strike over pay and conditions, Rishi Sunak celebrated his first 100 days as Prime Minister.

While polls show Sunak’s personal ratings are lackluster and poor, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that the NHS is deteriorating rapidly under the Prime Minister’s watch, affecting the country’s health and, as a result, the economy.

On February 2, exactly 100 days after Sunak was given the keys to No. 10, the RCM delivered a petition to Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to pay nurses fairly. The petition has been signed by over 100,000 members of the public, as well as nurses and patients.

Despite the promise to make the NHS one of its top priorities, according to the College, since Sunak took office, more than 10,000 more patients per month are regularly waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in A&E. With just under 55,000 people waiting more than 12 hours in December 2022, the situation is also much worse than it was at the same time on December 21, when about 13,000 patients waited in A&E during a 12-hour period.

The RCN also notes that since Sunak became Prime Minister, an average of almost 400 more patients per day have been stuck in hospital, unable to access the community care they need to get home. He says the NHS is deteriorating rapidly under Sunak’s watch, which is having an impact on the country’s health and, consequently, on the economy.

Patrician Marquis, RCN director for England, says that since taking office, the Prime Minister has failed to keep his promises to the NHS and is allowing it to deteriorate rapidly.

“More people are waiting in A&E, more patients are stuck in hospitals unable to access the home care they need, and bed occupancy rates remain at dangerous levels. People are also having to wait longer to access mental health services at a time when demand has never been higher.

“Patients don’t die because nurses are on strike. Nurses are on strike because patients are dying.

“Our members have a mandate to strike for another 100 days – and the Prime Minister would do well to see these strikes for what they are: a warning of the need for quick action.

The RCN’s director for England said the Prime Minister was failing the nation’s health, millions of patients and ultimately the economy.

“A sick and untreated population cannot work and contribute to the economic recovery that everyone wants to see,” added Marquis.

Nurses resume picketing this week on February 6 and 7.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is editor-in-chief of Left Foot Forward