NHS BOSSES raised concerns about Tory efforts to tackle mounting staff shortages today after Health Secretary Steve Barclay refused to commit to publishing a long-awaited workforce plan in the near future.
NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery warned it appeared the proposals, which she previously thought were “imminent,” had been delayed.
The warning came after Mr Barclay told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme that the plan would only be published “before the next general election,” due by January 2025.
The former Brexit secretary blamed the Covid-19 pandemic and “various things that have been happening in recent years” for the hold-up.
But Ms Cordery, whose organisation represents NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services, suggested the delay could be linked to the need for funding.
“We know that when it comes, it will be a very significant commitment of funding from the government because what we’re talking about is setting out the number of training places and the number of staff that the NHS needs over the next decade or so,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
She called for the proposals to be published “as quickly as possible.”
She added: “What everyone has been calling for, and what [Chancellor] Jeremy Hunt committed to in his autumn statement last year and indeed talked about in the spring budget, was a fully funded and fully articulated workforce plan for the NHS.
Westminster has promised the proposals will aim to address chronic staff shortages — thought to now top a whopping 150,000 full-time workers — and “show a path” towards fixing the country’s healthcare problems.
But health unions, many of whom have been engaged in national NHS strikes over pay and working conditions in recent months, have repeatedly warned that the system is on the verge of collapse after years of take-home pay cuts, falling real-terms funding and creeping privatisation.
Some, including Unite, have accused ministers of deliberately running down the health service as a precursor to selling if off entirely.
The 75th birthday of the NHS will be marked on July 5.
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