The heath secretary has been told to “listen to nurses” rather than “so-called experts” on health policy in order to safeguard the future of the NHS during a passionate debate on Question Time.
Adrian Tegg, who described himself as a specialist nurse, sparked a 20-miniute debate on the health service on the popular BBC One current affairs programme.
“You can recruit nurses – that’s fantastic – new GPs, new doctors but you are losing the experience at the top”
He claimed that Jeremy Hunt knew “nothing about nursing” before warning that many experienced staff were leaving the NHS to work abroad or in the private sector.
Speaking on the progamme on Thursday night, Mr Tegg said: “The NHS is at bursting point. Nursing is about safe patient care and patient outcomes. I left the NHS because I couldn’t be a nurse and I moved into the private sector where I am given time to be a nurse.
“Unless the NHS is resourced, within 10 years the NHS will not exist. It cannot cope,” he added.
“[But] it’s not all about money. Listen to the doctors and nurses, don’t listen to all your so-called experts that are so devoid from nursing – they haven’t got a clue,” he told Mr Hunt, who was appearing on the programme as part of its panel of politicians and commentators.
But the health secretary said he was “optimistic” about the future of the NHS, though acknowledging that “nurses and doctors are working unbelievably hard”.
“I there’s a lot of doom and gloom about the NHS, but there are some fantastic things happening,” he said.
However, he noted that improvements could be made in efficiency, for example, he said that IT remained “poor” in the NHS and that too much recording was still done on paper.
Mr Hunt also highlighted that a move to more “proactive care” that was focused on “prevention not cure” would help “head off the cost” for the health service, in particular accident and emergency services.
Angela Eagle MP, representing Labour on the panel, reiterated pledges on NHS funding and staffing made in September by her party leader Ed Miliband.
She claimed Labour’s £2.5bn so-called “time to care” fund “would actually start to put staff back on the frontline where they belong”.
But Mr Tegg warned that the NHS needed to stop losing its more experienced clinicians as well as recruiting new ones.
“All the experienced nurses are going abroad,” he said. “You can recruit nurses – that’s fantastic – new GPs, new doctors but you are losing the experience at the top.
“Until you realise that – until any party realises that – you will not solve the problem. Experience is leaving, it’s going,” he said.