Welcome to our new Prime Minister. But what are Liz Truss’s priorities?
We are in the grip of a political and economic crisis – the like of which I’ve never witnessed in my 59 years. During the last few months our already buckling political system has simply stopped functioning, while the Conservatives have held a drawn out leadership pageant.
Apart from Conservative loyalists – MP’s, members (and money wicking donors) – many of us have looked on in horror, or changed the TV channel, whilst wishing this predictable farce was over. It’s been like a never-ending nightmarish episode of The Voice, featuring two singers neither of whom can hold a note, neither of whom have talent.
The conclusion of this charade was transparent from the get go.
Well now we have Liz Truss as our Prime Minister. As local MP Tory Craig Mackinlay tweeted eagerly, encouraging local card-carrying members of the Conservative Party to follow his lead. Craig promoted Liz in a tweet saying,
“We’re in the closing stages of the @Conservatives leadership election. A call to members & my advice is @trussliz for leader & #PrimeMinister. New thinking across a range of issues to deliver across tough times, not least #costofliving & a more business friendly environment.”
Interestingly, our local MP wasn’t exactly quick to throw his weight behind Liz Truss, rather he waited until she was a shoo-in.
As the country lurches forward into a problematic Autumn, with no plan in place to deal with the cost of living crisis, out of control energy costs, and inflation prediction to continue to rocket, and our NHS is on its knees – can we trust Truss? Or will more of the befuddled thinking that got us into this mess, simply see us sink more deeply?
Indeed, I wrote to KCC Conservative Leader Roger Gough in early August calling for the County Council to show leadership to start to plan how residents and businesses could be supported through what will be a difficult winter. I was told to wait until mid-September.
Liz has stated today that her priorities are to tackle the fuel crisis and energy supply, and the NHS. She’s told us she’s going to – Deliver. Deliver. Deliver. We are waiting.
The very first thing I want the new PM to tackle is the economy. Urgent action is required to ensure decent jobs are created in Thanet – now. Not pie in the sky jobs, or ‘jobs in the future’ promises, but immediate work opportunities. South Thanet has languished for far too long, scraping along with a lack lustre labour market.
The next thing in Liz Truss’s in tray is the NHS.
There are 132,139 NHS staff vacancies. Or put another way, almost 10% of the entire NHS workforce is missing. In fact in the last three months vacancies have surged by 26,000. Consider also the Royal College of Nursing’s warnings about a 7% fall in enrolments to train. More nurses leaving the profession and less people training to enter into it.
Why exactly is the NHS losing staff at such a rate? Why is it failing to retain competent and highly skilled and much needed employees? Why isn’t it a Government priority to ensure a plentiful supply of NHS staff, especially when training for many clinical roles takes many years?
The Royal College of Nursing are calling for: “increased financial support for nursing students” Pat Cullen, General Secretary & Chief Executive adds “to address the staffing crisis and give the kind of care patients deserve, we need these figures to look even stronger. Sadly, they have headed in the wrong direction. The impact of this drop in acceptances to nursing courses, along with the drop in applications this year, must not be underestimated. It will add to the growing nursing workforce crisis. We need to show tomorrow’s staff that a career in nursing shouldn’t come with a personal finance sacrifice.”
The RCN, along with a growing number of health unions, is calling for an NHS pay rise of 5% above inflation. Don’t our NHS staff deserve that? We certainly need to do something to fix our NHS.
We know there are serious problems across the NHS in East Kent. Our stroke service isn’t fit for purpose. Emergency care has been difficult all year. People cannot get GP appointments, nor obtain dentistry. Winter pressures in hospitals are now ‘normal’ all year round. I’ve repeatedly called for a Public Inquiry into our maternity services, yet another ailing area.
Liz, we are waiting for the ‘new thinking’ that Craig has promised us you will deliver. What does that look like? How fast can we expect to see much needed improvements? How will the vulnerable be supported? How will hard working Ramsgate residents and businesses be supported? Most are worried. Urgent action is required.
I’m sure no-one needs to point out to our new PM ‘we’re in a terrible mess.’ Can Liz, and her supporters, such as our own local MP, meet the challenges. Or is it time for a General Election?