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It Isn’t Strikes Putting Us All At Risk – It’s Tory Cuts | Letters

Katy Balls writes that Rishi Sunak has taken the view that there is “ample Tory support” for toughing it out against striking workers (The Thatcherites hounding Sunak over strikes forget one thing: she picked her battles, 9 January). But it should be remembered that this support exists among Conservatives who spent much of 2022 preoccupied with whether Boris Johnson had been the country’s most successful leader – or, if not Johnson, which other Tory politician should be given the job. Having had their gaze torn away from their collective navel by what is happening to health and public services, their initial response has been “oh, strikes – well, the Iron Lady knew how to deal with those”. It is true, as Balls says, that the analogy is flawed because Margaret Thatcher picked her battles.

It is also the case that the battles Thatcher fought – and usually won – were against coalminers and steelworkers in a Britain of heavy industry that has largely been transformed. Part of the process of the unionised workforce then becoming less powerful was that the economy radically changed, and the industries in which they operated became less important, and the battles that Thatcher picked contributed to this happening. With an ageing population, who is seriously suggesting that the “power” of nurses and ambulance drivers could be broken in the same way – or that a better Britain would result?

Nick Watts

Barton Seagrave, Northamptonshire

My daughter died two days before Christmas, and on the day the nurses had their one-day strike she was in hospital receiving end-of-life care on a high-dependency ward. She was given the best of care, the nurses on duty made sure she was comfortable, pain free and not in any way stressed, and they cared for my husband with dementia and myself at a very upsetting time. We could not have asked for more.

So when this Tory government has the nerve to say that NHS workers are putting patients at risk and they need to bring in anti-strike legislation, I say you are not telling it as it is. We never would have been able to tell there was a strike, my daughter had such good care. No one is leaving critical patients to die – except the government, who will not be reasonable and meaningfully negotiate with unions who want decent wages for nurses, paramedics and care workers who are highly trained and dedicated to their work. We should call out these untruths for what they are. The strikes are a result of the Tories’ abysmal rule for 13 years, and the destruction of our vital services.

Sharon Mills


It is 11.10pm. I have just read the article by the Secret Consultant (Patients are waiting 40 hours in A&E. I hate that this is the best the NHS can offer, 8 January). Consultants are traditionally the omnipotent gods in hospitals, yet here is one who questions their own ability to judge what is best and right for their patients and whether or not they are practising dangerously. The description of the parlous state of the hospital and particularly its A&E department is scary, to say the least. It is a place where staff are becoming conditioned, despite their best efforts on behalf of patients, to accept that the described unacceptable levels of care are now OK.

I am 82 years old. I have gone to bed most nights of my life secure in the knowledge that, should I be taken ill, the NHS will give me the highest standard of care and treatment possible. Tonight I no longer have that certainty, as a result of too many years of incompetent and uncaring government.

John Robinson

Lichfield, Staffordshire

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