Pay NHS Staff Properly: It Will Actually Save Money – and Save Lives Too.

a&e

Demoralised and overworked NHS staff have their pay capped at a derisory 1%.

Here in North Thanet, medical staff vacancies sit at over 10%.

Our local NHS trust meanwhile spends over £2 million every month on private agency and locum staff to plug the gap.

Our NHS is in crisis. And fixing it would start, so simply, by paying staff properly.

This would actually save  money: it would be easier to attact and retain public sector staff, meaning less expensive agency workers were needed.

Capping public sector pay is a false economy.

Just like – as I have repeatedly highlighted in the press – closing mental health wards results in more money being spent on beds in expensive private hospitals.

Significant efforts to improve training, recruitment and retention would be the start of fixing the NHS – these life-saving staff deserve it.

But an even greater step would be repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

This abysmal legislation was forced through by the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

It handed tens of billions to private health service providers via commissioning consortiums – fragmenting the clinical commissioning system.

The Act was met with dismay by almost the entire medical establishment.

The British Medical Association (BMA) held its first emergency meeting in 19 years to oppose the bill.  The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives joined the BMA in “outright opposition” to the bill.

In 2014, after the dust had settled, the BMA held a survey of nearly 600 public health workers, including 340 doctors. The results: a shocking 71% said bureaucracy had increased. Only 18% thought the reforms had benefited public health in England.

That’s Tory reform for you. The kind of Tory reform you get when Tory MPs galore have squalid financial links to private health care firms.

Want change? The Green Party is the *only* party calling for an outright repeal of this bill. One of the many reasons I am a proud Green candidate.

Change is so desperately needed.

In March 2017 alone local NHS trust EKHUFT spent £2.3 million on private agency and locum staff, as medical staff vacancies rose to 11%. The previous month it spent £2.2 million on agency and locum staff.

The trust ran a £24 million deficit in 2016/17. The figure is strikingly close to its agency staff costs for the year of £26.9 million. (All figures from the most recently published monthly update to the Trust’s Board of Directors, here.)

Let’s start fixing the NHS’s staffing problem by paying staff properly.

This isn’t profligate. It’s actually a frugal thing to do in the long run. And more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

The risk meanwhile for those of us in North Thanet amid stretched resources?

It’s hard to tell: discussions about a long-anticipated shake-up of clinical strategy across east Kent have  been going on for four years now.

A new organisation, the “East Kent Delivery Board” was recently set up to lead them.

It plans to go to public consultation with its options later this year.

The fear remains – as long rumoured – that A&E services at the QEQM could face the chop.There is little evidence of this yet, but nor is there much transparency from the EKDB, which puts out terse updates – for those who know what it is and where to look…

As an MP I’d fight for a properly resourced NHS in our constituency and watch discussions on local clinical strategy like a hawk.

Vote Green for a properly resourced NHS.

Vote Ed Targett this June 8.

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