‘Nursing homes turned into morgues’: Union boss calls health secretary ‘blind’ as he criticizes 12 years of Tory cuts


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dated: 2022-11-20 11:34:27 .

A union leader accused the government of “turning nursing homes into morgues” during the Covid pandemic. (Image archive: Reuters)

Conservative mismanagement and cuts have led to “nursing homes being turned into morgues during the pandemic”, a union boss has claimed, calling the health minister “delusional”.

Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB, made the comments on Sunday morning as Health Secretary Steve Barclay admitted the NHS was under “huge pressure” and admitted the crisis surrounding it could not be entirely blamed on the Covid pandemic. He also announced plans to reduce the number of NHS destinations.

In Thursday’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that health would receive an extra £3.3bn in each of the next two years, while social care would receive £4.7bn.

But there are concerns that the funds will not be enough to tackle health problems, and the government has also been criticized for its decision to delay long-promised welfare reforms until October 2025.

Reputation: Steve Barclay: The NHS is under huge pressure

Smith told the BBC on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “Why didn’t they tax the non-locals, why didn’t they tax the richest people in this country with the broadest shoulders who don’t pay tax at all, what did they do against the bankers? bonuses?

“The Tory government has been making ideological decisions to cut services for over a decade and it has left services on their knees and that is no exaggeration – our care homes have been turned into morgues during the pandemic due to mismanagement and cuts.

“People are dying because of service cuts so I think this interview is completely unfair and the minister is frankly misguided.”

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At one point during the Covid pandemic, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that nursing home residents accounted for almost a third of all coronavirus deaths in England and Wales.

On Sunday, the Liberal Democrats also criticized the government, with health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper accusing Barclay of speaking in a “jargon mess”.

“This Conservative government cannot continue to blame the coronavirus pandemic for years of neglect and mismanagement of our NHS,” she said.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay admitted the NHS was under “huge pressure” at the moment. (Getty)

The health foundation said the NHS budget increase would offer “temporary respite” while health and care services would face “difficult trade-offs” on issues such as pay and backlogs.

Anita Charlesworth, director of the Health Foundation, said: “Thursday’s announcement offered short-term relief, especially compared to other public services.

“The reality is that the NHS will, at best, stand still as inflation bites and faces increasing pressures from an aging population, wages, backlogs and the ongoing costs of Covid.

“If other parts of the system – particularly social and community care – also face cost pressures, healthcare will become more difficult and the 2% will buy less.

“Efficiency alone can only take the NHS so far. As analysis by the Health Foundation showed this week, we would have spent £73bn more each year since 2010 if we had kept pace with health spending in Germany and £40bn more if we had kept pace with France.

“Without greater recognition that our health is our wealth – and vice versa – and a greater focus on its long-term financial viability, the NHS is likely to remain on a crisis footing, with difficult trade-offs such as performance and growing waiting lists for the foreseeable future.”

The director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, Patricia Marquis, said: “This analysis suggests that after decades of weak growth in funding or – to pay for – real cuts such as nursing pay, NHS budgets should now rise sharply, but they didn’t.

“That growth in health funding in England has fallen from nearly 7% per annum in the 2000s to just 1.2% per annum in the 2010s speaks volumes.

“We have been urging the government to be bold and take a radical new direction with serious investment in care, including fair pay, but this analysis seems to only confirm our worst fears that today’s ministers are clinging to yesterday’s ideas for even more pay cuts. “

Barclay admitted on Sunday that the crisis in NHS waiting lists was not just due to the pandemic.

He said: “Of course there have been challenges associated with the pandemic. Therefore, as part of the long-term plan, we are targeting significant additional investments in healthcare.”

Admitting the NHS was under “huge pressure”, he said: “That is why, despite the very real challenges he faced in the Autumn Declaration, the chancellor has prioritized health care funding.”


‘Nursing homes turned into morgues’: Union boss calls health secretary ‘blind’ as he criticizes 12 years of Tory cuts

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