Morale in the NHS is at an all-time low says NHS hospital boss, as it turns 75

5 July 2023, 07:15 | Updated: 5 July 2023, 09:42

NHS hospital boss on morale falling to an all-time low

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

Charles Knight, Chief Executive at St Bartholomew's Hospital, told LBC reporter Henry Riley that working in the National Health Service needs to be made "more attractive".

His comments come 75 years after the creation of the NHS, and as junior doctors prepare to walk out for the longest period of strike action, from 7 am on Thursday 13 July, to 7 am on Tuesday 18 July.

Consultants could also participate in industrial action from Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, although the BMA says this has not been announced yet.

READ MORE: ‘Unchartered territory for NHS’: July set for seven days of strikes from senior and junior doctors in NHS chaos

Mr Knight said: "I think the NHS is so much part of this country that its almost inconceivable that any political party or any situation would cause that fundamental contract between the people and the NHS to be changed.

"Having said that, there's obviously lots and lots of challenges ahead, and the NHS needs to really invest more in its infrastructure and its capital, but I am confident that it will survive largely in its current form to its 100th birthday."

"Do you see morale at the NHS being at an all-time low?" Henry asked, to which his guest replied: "I think objectively, yes".

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"Normally in a war when soldiers are expected to fight at the frontline, everyone knows that you can't do that all the time, and you have to have some time back at base to recover", he analogised.

The hospital boss continued: "The NHS and the frontline staff went from superhuman efforts over COVID and almost within a few weeks it was, 'well now you've got to tackle the backlog', and I think that's been incredibly tiring."

READ MORE: Junior doctors to walk out in July for longest-ever NHS industrial action

On healthcare staff being enticed away from the UK in search of better pay abroad, Mr Knight said: "There's no point having remuneration here that is not internationally competitive. It's not going to work and you will see a brain drain away from this country."

He stressed the importance of both recruitment and retention, as well as making the idea of working in the NHS "more attractive", and giving people time for training and development in their careers.

"It can't all be about squeezing more and more work out of a smaller number of people", he added.

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