Rishi Sunak told ‘to try harder’ after being confronted by patient over nurses pay

Rishi Sunak was confronted by a patient about nurses’ pay, during a visit to a hospital in Croydon.

Catherine Poole, a 77-year-old patient who is recovering from surgery, gave the Prime Minister a short lecture when he arrived for a chat on her ward.

The south Londoner, who told him she was hoping to go from home from Croydon University Hospital in south London in the coming days, was asked by Mr Sunak how the hospital’s nurses were looking after her.

As Mr Sunak crouched down to have a word with her (pictured), she could be heard telling the Prime Minister about pay for nurses.

“You need to pay them,” Ms Poole instructed the Prime Minister.

Mr Sunak, wearing a mask as he toured the hospital, said his Government was trying.

“You are not trying, you need to try harder,” she told him.

Mr Sunak went on to say that the NHS was important.

“Yes, and look after it,” Ms Poole told him.

Thousands of nurses across the country are currently balloting on walk-outs, as healthcare workers call for a pay rise amid soaring inflation.

The NHS could also be in line for a further tightening of budgets, as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt eyes ways to fill a multi-billion pound fiscal black hole.

Mr Sunak dodged a question about nurses’ pay, when pushed by broadcasters following the exchange.

Asked if he was happy that nurses are not getting a real-term increase in pay, he said: “It is brilliant to be here at Croydon Hospital, to see the great work of the doctors and nurses here.

“One of the priorities for my Government is going to be tackling the Covid backlogs and supporting the NHS.

“We face lots of challenges as a country, but I am confident that we can fix the economy and deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto, including having a stronger NHS.”

Mr Sunak received a more positive reaction from other patients.

At one bed, 46-year-old Sreeja Gopalan told him: “I am waiting to see you.”

“I am proud of you,” she said, as she took a selfie with the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak backtracks on fining patients £10 if they miss NHS appointments

Rishi Sunak has ditched a Tory leadership campaign pledge to fine patients who miss GP and hospital appointments £10.

The Prime Minister backtracked on the plan he outlined in his first attempt at leading the country this year after it was widely criticised by health leaders.

He had argued it was “not right” that some patients were failing to turn up and “taking those slots away from people who need” them.

Among the critics, the British Medical Association (BMA) said the plans would “make matters worse” and threaten the principle of free NHS care at the point of need.

But on Friday, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The PM wants to deliver a stronger NHS and the sentiment remains that people should not be missing their appointments and taking up NHS time.

“But we have listened to GPs and health leaders and have acknowledged that now is not the right time to take this policy forward.”

Mr Sunak had announced the “transformative” shake-up of the NHS in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in July as he was battling Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson.

But now he has succeeded Ms Truss after her brief time in No 10, Mr Sunak was not standing by the promises of the first campaign.

Instead, his press secretary was stressing he is “committed to delivering the commitments made in the manifesto” that the Tories brought to the 2019 general election.

In the summer, Mr Sunak had billed the fines as being a necessary temporary measure until the post-coronavirus backlogs are tackled.

“Under my government there will never be charges for care in our NHS. But I will charge people who waste valuable NHS time by booking appointments and failing to attend,” he said.

The Tory membership chose Ms Truss over Mr Sunak, but he managed to succeed her by winning the nominations of Tory MPs on Monday after her reign in No 10 disastrously ended.

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