Missing health chief Steve Barclay spotted as pressure mounts over NHS crisis

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Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been under fire over the crisis gripping the NHS (Image: Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been under fire over the crisis gripping the NHS (Image: Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

Missing Health Secretary Steve Barclay was this morning pictured bright and early heading into the Department of Health.

He has been all-but absent during recent weeks, as NHS staff took historic industrial action and as ambulances queue up outside hospitals.

After PM Rishi Sunak yesterday promised action on NHS waiting lists, Mr Barclay was this morning whisked into the back entrance of the Department of Health in his chauffeur-driven, ministerial car shortly before 7am.

Both Mr Sunak and his health chief had been accused of going missing in action amid the crisis gripping the NHS over the festive period.

Mr Barclay finally broke cover on Tuesday and attempted to shift blame for the escalating pressures on the health service onto Covid, Strep A and flu.

Teachers, civil servants and train drivers walk out in biggest strike in decade eidehiqdqikinvTeachers, civil servants and train drivers walk out in biggest strike in decade
Missing health chief Steve Barclay spotted as pressure mounts over NHS crisisSecretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay arrives for work at the Department of Health today (Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

The Health Secretary admitted the disastrous situation in the health service was not acceptable.

But he said "a combination of very high rates of flu, persistent and high levels of COVID, continuing concerns particularly among many parents around Strep A" were at the root of the "massive pressures" faced by the NHS over Christmas.

He told broadcasters: "There's £500 million of investment this year going into tackling the pressure in terms of social care. So we're putting more funding in. We've got more clinicians, we've got more staff working in the NHS.

"Of course there's a range of factors that we need to do. There's been particular pressures over Christmas because we've had a surge in flu cases, Covid cases and also a lot of concern around Strep A."

But he failed to address the pleas from medics for more support, who warn that a decade of Tory cuts have left the NHS on the brink of collapse.

It comes after nursing chiefs accused the Prime Minister of being ‘detached from reality’ after he failed to offer hope to the crumbling NHS in a major speech on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak gave five promises to reboot his staggering Government, including slashing NHS waits.

The PM admitted patients were not getting the “care they deserve” but made no mention of his party’s decade-long funding squeeze on the NHS.

Matthew Young

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