'Don't blame the Ukraine war for the nursing shortage': Matt Frei debates with former Health Minister Edwina Currie

15 April 2023, 14:33

Matt Frei challenges Edwina Currie on nurses and Brexit

By Grace Parsons

LBC's Matt Frei disputes with Edwina Currie following her claim that the "problems of the Ukrainian war" is responsible for the shortage of nurses.

As NHS nurses are set to stage a fresh wave of strikes, Matt Frei challenged former Health Minister Edwina Currie after she blamed the Ukraine war on the UK's nursing crisis.

Matt began: "I hate to mention it to you Edwina, because we had this ding-dong a few months ago about Brexit - a lot of European nurses that used to come automatically, freely and work here, they're not coming anymore for all the obvious reasons.

"We're missing 50,000 nurses because of Brexit. You didn't have that in mind did you?"

Mrs Currie responded: "Hang on a minute. What that tells you, Matt, is there's no shortage of money. The money is there to employ people and the disruption that's been caused by Covid and even more by the problems of the Ukrainian war, which has created all the problems of inflation..."

Matt cut in: "Don't blame the war in Ukraine for the nursing shortage, that really is a but of a stretch. Brexit is part of the problem is it not?"

The former Health Minister defended her views: "Matt, the war in Ukraine has produced inflation right through Europe! That's one of the problems that's behind all this.

"In normal circumstances a 10.5% pay rise would be deemed excessive in this country and the reason it isn't is because of inflation, which we have to hope is going to go down later this year."

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Matt went on to say: "What we're hearing from the nurses and the doctors, as well as quite a few other professions in the public sector, is that years of austerity, of under-investment are finally coming home to roost.

"The inflation which is caused partly by the surge in demand post-Covid, partly by the war in Ukraine is the straw that broke the camel's back or whatever the cliche is.

And years of under-investment, especially in the health service, that is the seedbed of the anger that we're seeing right now."

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