Fix chronic staff shortages and social care to help overloaded NHS, prime minister

04 January 2023

Responding to a speech by prime minister Rishi Sunak today, NHS Providers' director of communications Adam Brimelow said:

"The prime minister's pledge to cut waiting lists so that people get the care they need more quickly is an ambition that everyone in the NHS shares. But his speech was short on detail about how this will be achieved.

"Trust leaders strive every day to make things better for patients and their staff have pulled out all the stops to tackle the longest waits for planned treatment and get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity in the face of chronic staff shortages and ever-growing demand.

"But these are extremely testing times for a health service under unprecedented pressure and we must be realistic about what can be achieved under current conditions. Services and staff are overstretched and the NHS is seeing the impact of a surge in flu cases on top of the usual winter challenges.

"The most widespread industrial action in the history of the NHS is taking its toll too. The government and unions must get around the table urgently to talk about pay and avert more strikes.

"Patient care is affected by severe staff shortages across the health and care system. Inadequate funding and lack of capacity in social care have serious knock-on effects on an overloaded NHS. Without a fully funded, long-term workforce plan from the government the NHS and the social care sector will continue to struggle to meet ever-growing demand with too few staff."