Rishi Sunak told NHS crisis is 'your fault' in on-air clash with junior doctor

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Rishi Sunak told NHS crisis is
Rishi Sunak told NHS crisis is 'your fault' in on-air clash with junior doctor

Rishi Sunak has been confronted by a junior doctor over the NHS staffing crisis, who told him: "That's your fault."

The Prime Minister was hauled over the coals by A&E registrar Olivia in an LBC phone-in when he sought to blame strike action for spiralling NHS waiting lists.

Olivia, from Newcastle, who said she has been a junior doctor for 10 years, told the PM: “Frontline services are so stretched that we are in the position that you have had almost all healthcare workers going on strike this year. How do you think your refusal to negotiate with us improves morale or standards of care?”

The squirming PM told her: “You and I are sadly going to just disagree on this but I’m proud of what we’ve done, we’ve invested record sums in the NHS since I became Prime Minister.” He added: “Over a million NHS workers have accepted the Government’s pay deal, many of them on salaries and incomes far lower than consultants and indeed Olivia and her colleagues, that’s just the reality of it.”

He went on: “There are a few exceptions including junior doctors and consultants - that’s what’s causing the waiting lists to go up.” The PM insisted he had “done my bit by backing the NHS for the Long-term Workforce Plan and record funding” - and told her to read the document.

Teachers, civil servants and train drivers walk out in biggest strike in decade rriddqikeiqtkinvTeachers, civil servants and train drivers walk out in biggest strike in decade
Rishi Sunak told NHS crisis is 'your fault' in on-air clash with junior doctor (@LBC/Twitter)

But she hit back: “I think it is amazing that we are blaming the increase in waiting lists on doctors going on strike. You’re losing staff because we are undervalued, and it’s not just doctors, it's everyone, we are all leaving. A happy workforce is your responsibility. You’re the Prime Minister, you’re the Government, your staff aren’t happy - that’s your fault and ultimately that’s not good for patients.”

Earlier, Mr Sunak blamed striking medics for fuelling waiting times, as the number of patients on lists soared from 7.2 million to 7.9million.

“If you look at what happened we were actually making progress, we eliminated the number of two-year waiters - people waiting a really long time - we practically eliminated the number of people waiting one-and-a-half years, and we were making progress on bringing the overall numbers down,” he said.

"What happened? We had industrial action, we've got strikes."

Mr Sunak was also challenged by Jo, a small business owner in his Richmond constituency, who said Tory policies had meant independent firms were being forced to "shut up shop". She said four well established independent businesses in the area had announced closures in the last week as "keeping going is just no longer financially viable".

Jo told the PM: "Everything from increased taxes, soaring cost, impact of Brexit, difficulty finding stuff, all combined with the fact that it was your Government that crashed the economy and left people without any spare disposable income to spend." She demanded: "What are you going to do about the fact that your Tory policies are causing small businesses to shut up shop?"

The Prime Minister heaped blame for their misery on spiralling energy bills - but claimed some firms had told him that "business is good".

Mr Sunak said he'd been told by landlords that business was on the up on a visit to a London beer festival on Tuesday. He failed to mention how he'd been heckled by a publican for posing for a photo opp pulling a pint while raising alcohol duty.

He said. "I've been out and about a lot in the last week or two.. I was actually at a beer festival yesterday, talking to landlords, breweries, many of them were telling me business is good, that footfall is up, that they are seeing confidence return."

He said it was "obviously sad" that some firms were closing but added: "Every business has different circumstances."

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Another caller, Jack, a dad-of-four, was told to "talk to his bank" when he raised his crippling mortgage hike.

Jack said he is facing a rise from £1,500 to £2,800 a month in mortgage repayments and asked: “Why do I feel like I’m being unfairly punished?” He added: "I'm already on a 35-year term. I'm in my early 30s. I don't want to be paying it off until I'm in the grave."

Mr Sunak responded: "Jack, the best way for me to help you and your family and everyone else is to get inflation down. It’s not abstract - it’s inflation that is causing everyone problems with their bills. The quicker we get inflation down the quicker we can ease some of these pressures."

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Lizzy Buchan

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