Mother berates Health Secretary Steve Barclay for working health workers ‘to the bone’


mother, whose daughter has a ‘life-threatening condition’, has challenged Health Secretary Steve Barclay over the way health workers are “being worked to the bone” in an exchange caught on camera at a London hospital.

Speaking to Sky News, Sarah Pinnington-Auld said her three-year-old daughter Lucy, who has cystic fibrosis, was pushed off the “absolutely horrific” waiting list at Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill, London, because of “the obscene number of people who came through and the lack of resources”.

She went on to praise the health workers supporting her daughter but said they were not able to provide it becasue “the resourcing is not there”.

“Everyone on the ward is just brilliant,” she told Mr Barclay. “Considering what they’re under, considering the shortages of staff, considering the lack of resources. And I think for me, that’s what’s really upsetting actually, because we have a daughter with a life limiting, a life shortening the condition and we have some brilliant experts and they’re being worked to the bone.

“Actually, the level of care they provide is amazing, but they’re not being able to provide it in a way that works provided because the resourcing is not there

“If you don’t prioritise the NHS I don’t know what chance she has at a longer life.”

The exchange came as nurses from the Royal College of Nursing prepared to stage a second one day walk out on Tuesday. On Wednesday ambulance workers across England and Wales are also set to strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Although Mr Barclay said, on Monday morning, that his door was open to talk to the unions, who are demanding pay rises to keep up with soaring inflation, he said the RCN’s demand for a 19 per cent rise was not affordable.

“We’ve got to get that balance right between what is the right thing to do on pay and what is the right thing to do in terms of getting the pandemic backlogs down and really focusing in on the needs of patients,” he said.

Wednesday’s strike by ambulance crews has led to fears that some emergency calls for patients suffering heart attacks or strokes will not be covered by services in London.

The London Ambulance Service said on Monday that it was still in talks with the main ambulance union, Unison, over what level of emergency service will be provided in the capital.

Mr Barclay insisted that if people had the need to call an ambulance then they should continue to do so, but stepped up the pressure on the unions to provide cover for emergency calls and for those with life threatening conditions.

He said: “The advice is if there is a need to call an ambulance, people should continue to do so. And of course the GPs continue to be open and where people have an appointment they should continue to attend those unless they’re advised not to do so.

“So people should continue to call 999 where they need an ambulance. But there will be impacts on patients as a result of the strike action and that’s why I’m calling on the trade unions to make good on their statements that they will protect those with life threatening conditions and emergency responses – ensure we have the cover on Wednesday to respond to those calls.

“That’s what they’ve said publicly but if, for example, the only allow staff to respond from the picket line that will add further delay to the response times which is not in the patient’s interest.”

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