Sunak snaps back on low wages probe over 300k NHS recruitment plan

Rishi Sunak says ‘everyone would like to be paid more’

Rishi Sunak has admitted everyone would like to be paid more, amid headaches about how the Government plans on retaining more NHS staff.

Today’s NHS workforce plan, hailed by the Mr Sunak as “one of the most significant announcements in NHS history”, aims to boost staff numbers as well as reform the health service to deliver better care and services.

However a question from ITV at this lunchtime’s Downing Street press conference saw the PM admit that staff pay in the NHS will remain a thorny issue.

He was asked whether he accepts that “pay hits morale in the NHS”.

He responded with a laugh: “Look, of course, would everyone like to be paid more? Of course they would be!”

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“But I think everyone understands the economic context that we’re in and our job in Government is to balance all those things – make sure we reward people fairly and well for the incredible work they do, particularly NHS workers, but also make sure we’re doing things that are good for them and the rest of the country in the long term and that means bringing down inflation.

“It won’t help anybody if we just take the easy course and ultimately make the situation worse and last longer.”

The Prime Minister called the press conference, alongside Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, and Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, to hail his new NHS workforce plan, released this morning.

He said health staff had told him they want more doctors and nurses, and reform to free them up.

Mr Sunak confessed “Governments from all parties have ducked the challenge for decades”.

The Prime Minister described the new plan as the “most ambitious transformation in the way that we staff the NHS, in its history”.

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The new plan sets out a 15-year improvement drive to the levels of doctors and nurses trained in Britain, reducing the country’s reliance on overseas staff.

It includes an additional £2.4 billion of investment, and funds the expansion of education and training for the first 5 years in full.

The number of medical training placed will be doubled by 2031, with a pledge to train over 24,000 more nurses and midwives every year, as well as increasing the number of GP training places by 50 percent.

Mr Sunak praised the NHS and its long history, noting: “Next week marks the 75th anniversary of the NHS”.

“For every minute, of every day, of every one of those 75 years the NHS has been kept going by the millions of people who’ve worked for it.

“To them, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to say: thank you.

“I feel a powerful sense of responsibility to make sure that their legacy endures.

He added today’s plan will “make sure the NHS is there for our children and grandchildren just as it was there for us”.

This morning Wes Streeting accused the Government of stealing Labour’s policy, though failed to vocalise opposition to the plan.

The Prime Minister emphasised today’s announcement “is the NHS’s own plan, and the government is proud to back it”.

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