NHS demands cannot wait for new prime minister, says health secretary

NHS demands cannot wait for new prime minister, says health secretary

 

 

The NHS in England cannot wait for a new prime minister to be in post to tackle the the emergency crisis it faces, the health secretary has warned.
 
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Steve Barclay said hospitals could see "very serious challenges coming down the track" in the autumn and winter from flu and another Covid wave.
 
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said he was preparing for "reasonable worst-case scenarios".
 
Decisions including hiring staff from overseas could not be delayed, he said.
 
Mr Barclay, who was appointed to his post following the resignation of Sajid Javid in July, said he has been working to "accelerate contingency plans" and the Department of Health was in a "real sprint to get ready for September".
 
He said he had asked civil servants to "work at pace" on proposals to significantly increase international recruitment.
 
Mr Barclay said hiring more foreign nurses to help in social care might relieve pressures on hospital beds by speeding up discharge times.
 
Foreign recruitment has already risen markedly since a cap on visa numbers for foreign doctors and nurses was lifted four years ago and a Health and Care Worker visa was created during the pandemic.
 
However, a recent report by MPs concluded the large number of unfilled NHS job vacancies, about 110,000 in total, was posing a serious risk to patient safety.
 
Mr Barclay said: "Obviously those pressures can come in different forms. It might be you get a bad flu, it may be Covid rates are higher than we would expect or like.
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