'The government needs to get real and address the situation.'
A nurse has been praised after taking apart the Tory government’s response to ongoing NHS strikes, as she defended the strikes over poor pay and conditions.
Junior doctors and consultants chose to take joint industrial action for the first time in history this week, with more walkouts planned across October.
While Tory MP and panellist Kevin Hollinrake MP sought to defend the government’s refusal to negotiate over pay, the nurse exposed just how awful the government’s position is.
Joining in on the debate on what should be done differently to resolve the doctors pay dispute, the audience member said: “I’m a nurse, I voted to strike in the last ballot, when I’m balloted again, I will vote to strike again, and I’ll do that continually until pay talks open and they’re realistic.
“We are striking for pay, we are striking because we feel undervalued but we are also striking for patient safety, so when we’re accused of putting patients at risk, I say, patients are at risk every single day of the week.
“We’ve got 7 million people on waiting lists, we’ve got 140,000 vacancies, people are dying on waiting lists, people are dying in the back of ambulances, and this cannot go on.
″The government needs to get real and address the situation.”
It comes after Health Secretary Steve Barclay received criticism for not talking to NHS workers on strike to negotiate a deal for the last four months.
The government has repeatedly refused to sit down with health workers who will be walking out over pay and conditions again next week.
Earlier this week, Barclay announced that the government is planning to extend minimum service levels legislation to apply to nurses and doctors, in what has been blasted a ‘desperate’ act that could see striking hospital workers sacked.
The nurse in the Question Time audience also took aim at the government’s plans for a minimum service level for NHS staff. She said: “And I would say we welcome the government saying we want minimum staff in – but we want minimum staff in every day of the week.
“I’ve worked in the NHS for almost 20 years. I did shifts nearly 15 years ago that were 27 hours long because there were no nurses to take over because we were so short-staffed.
“Now that was nearly 15 years ago – and here we are now with a government talking about minimum service levels.
“Frankly, that is an insult to us all.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward