'You're not trying!' Hospital patient takes on Sunak over nurses' pay as he U-turns on £10 missed appointment charge

28 October 2022, 13:50 | Updated: 28 October 2022, 15:55

Patient tells PM he needs to pay nurses during hospital visit

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak has been confronted by a hospital patient who told him he needs to "try harder" to pay doctors and nurses more.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The new PM, visiting Croydon University Hospital, spoke to a patient on camera told him it is a "pity" health professionals aren't given more money.

"They always do. It's a pity you don’t pay them more," she said.

"Well, we're trying," he replied.

"No, you're not trying. You need to try harder," she said.

"Right, I will take that away – yeah. They are a very nice team here, aren’t they?" the PM asked.

"They are, but it's important because they do very hard work," she said.

Mr Sunak was taken to task by a pensioner
Mr Sunak was taken to task by a pensioner. Picture: Alamy

It came as he U-turned on his Tory leadership campaign promise to start fining patients who miss their GP and hospital appointments.

Mr Sunak had pledged to impose a £10 charge on anyone who fails to turn up to their appointments at a time of appointment backlogs.

During a visit to the hospital, Mr Sunak spoke to Catherine Poole, 77, and asked her if she was being taken care of.

Read more: Sunak insists Braverman has 'learned from her mistake' as Starmer brands restoring Home Sec an 'act of weakness'

His spokeswoman confirmed on Friday he had decided to drop the idea less than a week into his job after doctors took aim at the plans.

"The PM wants to deliver a stronger NHS and the sentiment remains that people should not be missing their appointments and taking up NHS time," she said.

"But we have listened to GPs and health leaders and have acknowledged that now is not the right time to take this policy forward."

The British Medical Association said the plans would "make matters worse" and put the notion of the NHS being free at the point of need under threat.

He dodged questions about nurses' pay when he spoke to reporters at the hospital.

Read more: Sunak to expand windfall tax after Shell avoids paying up despite profit jump

"It is brilliant to be here at Croydon Hospital, to see the great work of the doctors and nurses here," he said.

"One of the priorities for my government is going to be tackling the COVID backlogs and supporting the NHS.

"We face lots of challenges as a country, but I am confident that we can fix the economy and deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto, including having a stronger NHS."