Liz Truss is a fantasist. Totally out of touch. She can’t be trusted to protect an NHS she doesn’t believe in or doctors she doesn’t value. No public service would be safe with her in charge.
Liz Truss wanted doctors’ pay cut and charges for GP visits.
Tory leadership favourite Liz Truss called for patients to be charged to see their GP and for doctors’ pay to be cut, an unearthed document can reveal. In a pamphlet, she co-authored in 2009 while working as deputy director of the Reform think tank Truss also said she wanted to see universal child benefit abolished. The document, entitled “Back to Black”, was written by six other people while Labour was in government at Westminster. It detailed proposals that would significantly cut public spending, such as introducing “user charges for GPs”. TORY leadership favourite Liz Truss called for patients to be charged to see their GP and for doctors’ pay to be cut, an unearthed document can reveal. In a pamphlet, she co-authored in 2009 while working as deputy director of the Reform think tank Truss also said she wanted to see universal child benefit abolished. The document, entitled “Back to Black”, was written by six other people while Labour was in government at Westminster. It detailed proposals that would significantly cut public spending, such as introducing “user charges for GPs”.
Commenting on the report a spokesperson for Liz Truss’s campaign said: Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward. “Liz is focused on her bold economic plan to boost growth, cut taxes and put money back into hardworking people’s pockets”. There are fears the report could hint at Truss’s ideological approach to problems such as child poverty should she become the next prime minister. Last year the Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Child Payment to try and tackle child poverty rates. The payment was subsequently doubled in April 2022 after charities hailed the scheme as a “game-changer” and a “crucial lifeline to many with young children”. At the Conservative Party hustings in Perth earlier this week, Rishi Sunak criticised the Scottish Government for putting more funding into the welfare system. He also detailed plans for greater oversight of Scottish Government spending by Westminster, claiming he would be “proud” to bypass Holyrood to deliver infrastructure projects in Scotland.
Why did RCN condemn Liz Truss?
The Royal College Of Nursing condemned a policy proposed by Liz Truss, who said she would end national pay deals for public sector staff in England if she becomes Prime Minister. She later retracted her comments and said current levels of public sector pay will be maintained, but we say this is not enough to fix the current staffing crisis. In a leadership debate on Monday (1 August), the Tory leadership candidate suggested linking pay to regional living standards. This would mean nursing staff doing similar roles receiving different salaries depending on location. She vowed to end national pay deals for civil servants and said she would do the same in other public sector roles if the scheme was successful. It is right for Truss to U-turn on the proposed policy. Lowering nursing pay in any region of the UK is always a bad idea. Proposing this during a cost-of-living crisis is insulting to nursing staff everywhere.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “This was an attack on NHS values and a direct assault on its professionals. Undermining trade unions and their members, diversity and employment rights are warped priorities when Ms Truss herself says hospitals are crumbling. “By suggesting that salaries for nurses and support workers deserve cutting further she has shown her true colours.” There are already tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs and cutting salaries will drive many more out of the profession. These shortages mean that patient care is suffering. Pat added: “National salaries are key to national service. A move to regional pay in the NHS was defeated 10 years ago and I give notice to Ms Truss that I would fight her just as strongly if she were to pursue such a policy. “This will be fresh in the minds of nursing staff when they vote on taking strike action in our upcoming industrial action ballot enough is enough.” The comments by Truss came as an analysis by energy consultants found that households across Britain should expect an annual energy bill of £3,615 this winter. A recent RCN poll shows public support in England for nursing staff taking industrial action over pay had risen sharply in June to almost half. Make sure that the RCN has your correct job title, employer details and home address so that we can send you your ballot paper and you can have your say on pay.
Are the Tory leaders eroding the NHS?
The never-ending chaos of Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Tory leadership race has perhaps distracted from the fact that the NHS has not met its A&E target of seeing 95 per cent of its patients within four hours since 2015. Overworked NHS staff are in despair. There is a recruitment crisis, exacerbated by Brexit, with 105,000 vacancies lying unfilled in March earlier this year. The Royal College of Nursing will ballot its members for a strike after the trade union called the government’s pay-rise offer of 3.7 per cent “pitiful”, in light of the Bank of England’s forecast that inflation will peak at 13 per cent later this year. Billions more pounds will be injected into the system via Rishi Sunak’s National Insurance (NI) tax increase, but the Resolution Foundation predicts health and social care will account for 40 per cent of the government’s day-to-day spending by 2024-25. The inescapable truth for would-be prime ministers Liz Truss, Sunak and Keir Starmer is that voters expect the NHS to be world-class and free at the point of use. And they are prepared to vote en masse for it. Vote Leave won the 2016 Brexit referendum, in part, by peddling the inaccurate claim that wrenching the UK from the world’s biggest trading bloc would allow the government to send £350m to the NHS instead of the EU. After years of austerity, the pledge had obvious appeal. In 2019, Boris Johnson secured an 80-seat majority by promising more doctors and nurses, 40 new hospitals, and that as PM he would make the health service his number-one priority.
New Labour dramatically cut NHS waiting times and Tony Blair’s record of delivery was central to him being re-elected twice. Backing the NHS early and often should be a no-brainer for any aspiring leader because of how deeply British voters care for it. Instead, the Conservative leadership candidates barely mention the crisis engulfing hospitals. Indeed, they seem relaxed about eroding its “free at the point of use” principle. Sunak, the moderate in the race, would charge patients £10 for missing an appointment. And Truss, who has promised to scrap Sunak’s NI rise and embark on a general tax-cutting agenda, is scrambling to distance herself from a 2009 pamphlet she co-authored, which recommended cutting doctors’ pay by 10 per cent and charging for GP appointments. The pair are more comfortable trading barbs and talking up culture wars than they are engaging with the ugly reality of the country’s most important public service. The NHS Confederation chief executive, Matthew Taylor, urged Truss and Sunak “to do away with the myths and political rhetoric”, and blasted the “lack of realism” over the fact the NHS has faced under-investment since 2010. If either candidate is serious about winning the next election, they would do well to listen.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have both laid out plans for the NHS, which is grappling with a huge backlog, workforce crisis and creaking infrastructure. Ms Truss has said she would improve the service by targeting “layers of management” in the NHS, identifying micro-management as an issue and vowing to reduce Whitehall control. She also U-turned over a policy proposal to end national pay deals for public sector staff in England in a move which was condemned by the Royal College of Nursing as lowering nurses’ pay. Mr Sunak wants to fin patients £10 if they miss a GP appointment, pledges to cut waiting times by the end of this year, cut red tape to recruit more doctors and nurses from overseas and calls out “poor” leadership. He has described tackling the NHS backlog as the biggest public services emergency. This week the NHS Confederation accused Ms Truss and Mr Sunak of failing to appreciate the pressure the NHS is under or proposing any meaningful, long-term solutions. It identifies the most pressing need for a fully costed and funded workforce plan to deal with the 105,000 vacancies in the NHS and 165,000 vacancies in social care. The organisation, which speaks for health professionals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, also called for more capital investment to upgrade much of the NHS’s crumbling estate, buildings and infrastructure as well as a rescue package for social care which it says remains far from fixed and which it says is leading to significant extra demand on the health service.