Plans to reform urgent and emergency care jeopardised by strike inaction and staff 'walking away'
The NHS Confederation has accused the government of adopting a ‘sluggish and short-term approach’ in the face of the ‘crisis’ facing staff working in emergency services.
Speaking on 29 January – the eve of the publication of the government’s urgent and emergency care recovery plan – chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘The NHS has been at the mercy of a sluggish and short-term approach from the government in its response to the crisis facing emergency services this winter.’
While ‘extra pots of money’ were welcome, they had been issued too late to have a significant impact on winter pressures in the NHS. Funds would have to be released far earlier in future years to give health and care services enough time to recruit extra staff, he noted.
Pay dispute at a 'standstill'
Mr Taylor also criticised the government’s 'continuing standstill’ with trade unions over the pay dispute, saying this could ’lead to further disruptive strikes and frontline staff walking away when the NHS needs them more than ever’.
‘The NHS needs the right numbers and mix of staff in place if it is to truly recover the performance of emergency care and other services long term.’
The government's "standstill" with trade unions over the pay dispute could lead to further disruptive strikes and frontline staff walking away when the NHS needs them more than ever [Matthew Taylor, NHS Confederation]
Meanwhile, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said that up to 4,200 of its members took part in the first strike by NHS physios on Thursday (26 January).
Jim Fahie, the CSP’s assistant director of employment relations, said physiotherapy staff had taken action at 40 picket lines in England. The 'call to strike’ had been ‘well observed’ at all 30 employers affected by the CSP's collective action.
'CSP staff and officials have also been out in force, supporting our members throughout the day, and officials and reps from across the trade union movement have made solidarity visits and attended the picket lines. Members have also continued to support patients "under life and limb cover",’ Mr Fahie added.
The NHS Confederation’s Matthew Taylor added: ‘With emergency and urgent care services under extreme pressure it is right the NHS takes stock of the steps needed to recover performance and expands key initiatives that are already leading to improvements, such as “virtual wards” and same day emergency care units.
‘Further progress will not only depend on NHS staff continuing to go above and beyond, but also on concerted action to reduce the numbers of people needing to come into contact with emergency and urgent care services in the first place.
‘This includes looking at more fundamental changes to improve the health of local communities, as well as the support available to local authorities to fund more social care packages as this will then help improve the flow of patients through hospitals.’Author: Ian A McMillan