‘How does the government expect to deliver everything promised in the plan without the staff to deliver the services,’ asked GMB union yesterday in a stinging rebuttal of Tory PM May’s NHS Plan which she unveiled yesterday.
Under the plan hospital patients will be questioned on their drinking habits and warned not to let their lifestyles place extra demands on the NHS, with teams sent into 50 hospitals to target patients who drink, smoke or are overweight.
Under the plan the NHS will publish guidance setting out responsibilities of members of the public, who have a duty to do ‘everything they can’ to stay healthy, and not ‘place extra demands’ on the NHS by smoking, over-eating or drinking too much. A new version of ‘The Handbook to the NHS Constitution’ will set out a public duty to ensure the NHS’s resources ‘are used responsibly’.
Aside from the GMB, the other health unions welcomed May’s plan. The Royal College of Nursing claimed it ‘keeps the NHS a world leader and true to its roots’. The British Medical Association repeatedly described the plan as ‘welcome’, claiming it ‘represents an ambitious set of aims for the health service’.
But the GMB said: ‘The plan fails to address the gaping 100,000 staffing black hole in the health service, completely ignores the NHS’s greatest assets – its workforce – and fails to address the years of real terms pay cuts which have left some nursing wards with vacancy rates of higher than 40%.
‘Since the extra funding was announced last year, NHS staff received a three year pay deal which will see thousands of staff hit with yet more real terms pay cuts. GMB was the only trade union to reject the deal.’
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: ‘The NHS has a staffing black hole of 100,000 people – it’s the single biggest crisis facing our health service. ‘So why on earth is there no mention of staffing issues in today’s long-awaited plan? The Conservatives once again fail to understand what makes the NHS tick. How does the government expect to deliver everything promised in the plan if there are no staff to deliver the services?’
BMA member, Anna Athow, added: ‘Apart from the GMB, the other health unions have welcomed Theresa May’s 10-year plan for the NHS. This is a disgraceful betrayal of their leadership and does not represent their members.
‘Doctors, nurses and NHS staff see straight through May’s plan, they know that any extra money promised is money to further privatise the NHS, while driving people out of hospitals to be treated at home.
‘This is what the focus on community care is all about. The BMA should not only be publicly opposing this plan rather than going along with it, it should, together with the other health unions, be organising joint industrial action to remove this government.’