Liz Truss must not duck opportunity to act on big challenges facing the NHS and social care

05 September 2022

Responding to the election of Liz Truss as the new leader of the Conservative Party and impending appointment as the next prime minister, the interim chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:

"Trust leaders – and indeed the public – will expect Liz Truss to deliver on her claims that health is her priority by showing she will not duck the big issues facing the NHS.

"She now has an opportunity to lead a government which must take decisive action on the key challenges facing the NHS and social care, including severe staff shortages, treatment backlogs, NHS funding and social care reform, and support it to deliver.

"We need to see a fully-funded long-term workforce plan for the NHS sooner rather than later. With a staggering 130,000 vacancies across trusts in England alone, we know the NHS simply doesn't have enough staff to deliver everything being asked of it.

"The government's failure to fully fund this year's below inflation pay awards, coupled with a crippling cost of living crisis, and ongoing concerns over punitive pension taxation for senior staff, is making it increasingly difficult for trusts to recruit and keep vital health workers.

"Patients experience the impact of this daily. The elective waiting list now stands at 6.7 million alongside substantial care backlogs across mental health, primary care and community services. With severe pressures on ambulance services and urgent and emergency care, the winter ahead will be very challenging.

"Trusts are continuing to do all they can to increase activity and maintain quality of care. They are constantly innovating, improving and investing, but these are very challenging times. With inflation and energy costs eroding NHS funding, the prime minister must ensure budgets for health and social care are not impacted by a political call to reverse the recent uplift in national insurance payments.

"The delays to the government's commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 also need to stop. Liz Truss highlighted the need to invest in the physical fabric of the NHS during the leadership campaign and trust leaders will hope she delivers on this through the New Hospital Programme and decisive action to improve the wider NHS estate, which is putting patient and staff safety at risk and undermining the productivity of services.

"Finally, any initiatives must be underpinned by a long-term funded plan for the future of social care. The interdependence of health and social care is clear for all to see: for the NHS to succeed, so must social care. Bold action must be taken to put social care on a sustainable footing."