Labor’s Wes Streeting told Whately: “Can we dismiss you, the health minister or the prime minister, for failing to meet any national standards on non-strike days?”
Minister of Health Helen Whately There was a flood of criticism from nurses about the government’s struggle with healthcare workers over salary.
Nurses went on strike once again on Wednesday, and earlier this week they announced they will hold two more days of industrial action next month over their long-running and historic dispute.
In a special issue of Channel 4 News discussing the current pressures on healthcare, the two nurses spoke directly to Whately about how “patients are not safe” and that the profession makes them feel “burned out” and “depressed”.
Rhian Wheater said: “I have been an NHS nurse for 24 years and have never seen the NHS in its current crisis.
“We have 48,000 nursing positions. Our wards are unsafe. We yell at you and tell you that our patients are not safe. The government is doing nothing about it.
“You talk about strike days being safe for patients, but what about non-strike days when we can’t take care of our patients?”
Another, Maxine Ward, said: “Your government needs to negotiate with the Royal College of Nursing because it’s humiliating that we have the responsibility to do so. After all we’ve been through as a profession in recent years, we had to go on strike in the first place…”
“I don’t think this government appreciates how exhausted and depressed nurses in this country are because we can’t do our job.”
later shadow health secretary Wes Street Minister: “Can we dismiss you?” – Reference to the government’s plans to introduce anti-strike laws that could lead to the dismissal of healthcare workers for failing to provide minimum service during industrial action.
“You are now threatening to fire these people for not meeting the minimum standards on strike days,” the Labor MP said. Can we dismiss you, the health minister or the prime minister for failing to meet any national standards on non-strike days?”
Whately said the government was “listening” to NHS staff.
He said: “We listen and I hear how difficult it is.
“I come from a family of doctors and nurses, myself and my family use the NHS.”
But Whately added: “We have a wage review process independent of government to set a fair wage level, and of course we recognize that we have to reward staff… the country can afford it.”
She urged nurses’ unions to “negotiate and take part in this pay review process in order to get this right in the years to come.”