One of Boris Johnson’s key manifesto pledges was torn apart on live TV this morning.
The prime minister promised “50,000 more nurses” in the Conservative election manifesto on Sunday but his party has admitted that 18,500 of that 50,000 will come through encouraging existing nurses to stay in the profession or others to return.
His pledge is clearly misleading because encouraging existing staff to stay in the job is not the same as hiring new nurses.
On Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan put that problem to Tory minister Nicky Morgan and asked why people should believe Johnson can be trusted with the proposal.
Her reply didn’t answer that question very well.
The minister said:
There are other ways nurses come in to the NHS. There will be overall, and we are very very clear on this, 50,000 more nurses, if you look in 10 years’ time, than there are today…
When Piers pushed on the fact that 19,000 of those nurses could be existing staff, the Tory MP went even further away from the point…
But I think it’s realistic to say we’ve got highly skilled staff who we do not want to leave and if we are able to persuade them and encourage them to stay that is good news for nursing care.
It is definitely “good news” if the NHS can keep its staff but it does not mean there are more nurses by any stretch of the imagination.
Susanna Reid then offered an analogy – if ITV argued there would be three more presenters on GMB tomorrow because they had convinced her, Piers and Charlotte Hawkins to come in again, they would be wrong.
There would just be the same three presenters.
Nicky Morgan replied:
Well not if there’s an additional three… not if there’s an additional three, then you’ve got your six haven’t you… but the fact is three of you have been encouraged to come in on Tuesday morning and not just on Monday morning.
That answer unsurprisingly didn’t satisfy the GMB presenters.
There was another significant detail for Johnson’s 50,000 pledge in the interview, when Morgan pointed out that the increase in nurses would be delivered over 10 years.
However, that was not the impression from the Tory manifesto - which only covers a five year parliament…
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, didn’t miss that detail.
Others have been quick to roast Morgan for completely fluffing her lines on live television