Hospital patient challenges Rishi Sunak over nurses' pay – The Guardian

Catherine Poole tells prime minister to pay staff more, raising a finger and saying: ‘You need to try harder’
Rishi Sunak got a tase of how the “difficult decisions” he has said will guide spending cuts may go down with the public, when he was challenged by a hospital patient about nurses’ pay.
During a tour of Croydon University Hospital in south London, Sunak met NHS workers and posed for smiling selfies with them, but was confronted by 77-year old Catherine Poole.
She politely answered his questions about her treatment and family visits, but repeatedly steered the conversation back to funding for the NHS.
Sitting in a chair next to her bed, Poole told Sunak to “look after” the health service and said it was a “pity” staff were not paid more.
Nurses’ pay has proved a thorny issue for the government recently, after 300,000 members of the Royal of College of Nursing began voting on taking strike action in a dispute over earnings, which are lagging behind inflation.
When Poole was asked by Sunak if the staff had looked after her “really nicely”, she looked him straight in the eye and replied: “They always do. It is a pity you don’t pay them more.” He told her the government was trying, to which she raised her finger and said: “No you are not trying, you need to try harder.”
Sunak promised to “take that away” and remarked on the “very nice team” of staff.
But Poole pressed home her point a final time, saying: “They are, but it’s important because they do very hard work.”
She added that it was “not the first time I’ve been in and I’ve always been very satisfied”, and urged Sunak to “look after” the NHS.
Chuckling, Sunak said his goodbyes and added: “Thank you for letting me know that. Nice to see you, I hope you get home.”
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It comes after a report by the London Economics consultancy said up to 32,000 nurses could quit this year because falling NHS pay means they are effectively working “one day a week for free”.
Sunak was tackled this week in the Commons by the former Labour shadow cabinet minister Richard Burgon, who said a nurse would have to work for over 20,000 years in order to match the prime minister’s “vast wealth”.
The prime minister said he would “always support our hard-working nurses” and added: “As we approach the difficult decisions that confront us, we will do so in a way that is fair and compassionate, because those are our values.”


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