Health secretary raises eyebrows by saying industrial action didn't 'impact' the NHS

Health secretary raises eyebrows by saying industrial action didn't 'impact' the NHS

Related video: Doctor on strike reveals eye-watering number of people on NHS waiting lists

Sky News

Victoria Atkins, the former safeguarding minister who replaced Steve Barclay as health secretary in Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle last month, was this week’s government minister offered up to the Sunday political programmes, but her comments about soaring NHS waiting lists has been raising eyebrows online.

During her appearance on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the ex-BBC political editor showed Atkins a graph which demonstrated that the number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England “was going up way before the pandemic”.

In her reply, which touched upon the government putting “more money than ever before” into the NHS and recruiting a “further 50,000 nurses” into the health service, the health secretary said: “We do have to acknowledge that the impact of the industrial action has really had an impact on waiting lists.

“Since December, we’ve seen some 1.1 million appointments have had to be rescheduled.”

Earlier this week consultants were offered a new pay deal which would see some senior doctors get a salary increase of nearly £20,000, according to data from the British Medical Association.

Yet even Kuenssberg herself pointed out after the episode was broadcast that the “impact” of the pay dispute on waiting lists isn’t as significant as Atkins makes out.

She wrote: “Atkins points finger at nurses and doctors taking industrial action, but remember waiting lists were going up before the strikes, and before the pandemic.”

And she wasn’t the only one to take issue with Atkins’ comments:

Oh, and the fact that Barclay, her predecessor, was accused of being “arrogant” over his approach to industrial action – namely that he “won’t even talk to them” – probably didn’t help matters…

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