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Sunak slammed for blaming Tory NHS failures on industrial action

TRADE unions and health campaigners condemned Rishi Sunak today for blaming exhausted health workers for his own failure to cut NHS waiting lists as promised.

The Prime Minister admitted to TalkTV that he had not kept his pledge to reduce waiting lists after he made it one of his five key priorities last year. 

When questioned on whether he had failed to deliver on the promise, he replied: “Yes, we have.”

The overall waiting list has risen since the pledge was given, increasing from 7.21 million treatments in January last year to 7.61 million in November.

When questioned about the figures, Mr Sunak went on to blame strikes, saying that they had “had an impact” on delivering the commitment.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea urged the Prime Minister to “take responsibility for letting patients down so badly,” instead of “blaming everyone else.”

Professor Phil Banfield of the British Medical Association pointed out that waiting lists had risen by nearly five million between 2010 and 2022, when there were no strikes to blame. 

“Rising waiting lists are a direct consequence of years of government neglect of the health service, the subsequent crisis of understaffing and the failure to recognise and value the expertise and skills of the doctors needed to reverse this incessant decline in capacity,” he said.

Royal College of Nursing director Patricia Marquis blasted the government for leaving front-line nurses to bear the brunt of its failure to cut down waiting lists.

“Rather than blaming strike action for his inability to tackle waiting lists, which have been growing for many years, the Prime Minister must invest in the nursing workforce to boost staffing levels,” she said.

“There are staff shortages on almost every shift, with one nurse caring for 10, 15 or more patients and over 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone.” 

A spokesperson for We Own It rebuked Tory ministers for “blaming our hard-working doctors and nurses for the crisis they created by starving our NHS and handing out crony contracts to their mates.”

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman and retired consultant paediatrician Dr John Puntis said: “Massive staff vacancies, crumbling hospitals and surgeries, ageing equipment and lack of beds combined with threadbare community services make the NHS inefficient. 

“The Prime Minister must stop passing the buck and take responsibility for policies that have failed the NHS and the public and are now damaging the economy.”

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