Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Nine in 10 NHS bosses say staffing crisis will endanger patients
19 November 2019, 09:53
Senior NHS leaders have warned that the huge shortage of doctors and nurses in hospitals is putting safety and quality of care under threat.
Nine out of 10 hospital bosses in England fear the understaffing problems in the NHS could become so severe that patients' health could be put at risk.
They also warned parties not to give false promises.
Speaking ahead of the December election, 58 per cent of NHS leaders say that they believe this winter will be the toughest yet for the service.
The views expressed by NHS leaders on Tuesday are likely to increase the challenges facing the Conservative Party, after the growing problems with the NHS look to dominate much of the election campaign.
Some of the concern has come about after the Tories agreed an extraordinary deal in which the NHS would pay doctor's pension tax bills in 2020.
They proposed the scheme after more and more doctors began working fewer shifts in order to avoid being his with huge tax bills of up to £100,000.
The decision by doctors to work fewer shifts has led to thousands of cancelled operations and outpatient clinics, whilst also delaying patient's access to care.
However, the deal immediately triggered claims of an agreement between ministers and NHS England in defiance of “purdah” rules that stipulate the government must not undertake changes of policy during an election campaign.
The Liberal Democrats recently pledged a £35 billion boost to the NHS by raising income tax but one penny if they gain power.
The money would be used towards a £10 billion capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings.
The party's health spokeswoman, Luciana Berger, said the income tax increase would deliver £7 billion per year to the NHS and social care plans.
She also pledged to tackle staffing shortages in the NHS by retaining free movement of labour, reinstating nursing bursaries and setting up a national workforce strategy.
The party also said it would end the current shortfall of GPs by 2025.
Ms Berger said: "The NHS is struggling to cope with severe staff shortages, chronic underfunding and crumbling hospital buildings.
"All of these problems would be made much worse by a Tory or Labour Brexit that would end free movement and make it harder to attract nurses and doctors from the EU.
She continued: "The Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future by stopping Brexit, and we will put a penny on income tax to raise an extra £35 billion for the NHS and social care.
"We are the only party with a credible plan to protect the NHS, by tackling the staffing crisis, investing in mental health services, social care, public health and making our NHS buildings fit for the 21st century."
The Labour party has said it will put £26 billion into the NHS if it is elected into government.
The £26 billion real-terms funding boost would see the Department of Health’s annual budget rise by £40 billion in cash terms over the next five years under a Labour government.