The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

It’s fair to say that backbench MP Michael Fabricant has not showered himself in glory in the eyes of NHS chiefs.

The politician’s claim that nurses “had a quiet drink” after shifts during lockdowns, while commenting on the PM and chancellor’s partygate fines, fanned the flames further among a health service still limping through a pandemic two years after it began.

Such inflammatory remarks prompted an acute trust chief to take the rare step and publicly condemn the Lichfield MP, branding his comments “simply wrong and unacceptable”.

In a tweet, East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust CEO Nick Hulme went as far as to say that Mr Fabricant was “not fit to hold office”, as reported in our story yesterday.

The backbencher had made the claims about nurses “drinking in the staff room” in response to news that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were being fined by the Metropolitan Police over a birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020.

Mr Hulme was not the only health chief critical of Mr Fabricant – Royal College of Nursing CEO Pat Cullen wrote to the MP, labelling his remarks “utterly demoralising and factually incorrect”, reminding him that health workers remain “understaffed, underpaid, overworked, burnt out and still holding it together”.

Staff survey’s ominous prediction

If 12 per cent of midwives leave their jobs in healthcare, as suggested by the most recent Staff Survey results, the impact on the NHS will be devastating.

“[Midwives and maternity support workers] are exhausted, fragile and are starting to vote with their feet and simply head for the exit door,” warned Suzanne Tyler, executive director at the Royal College of Midwives, in response to the shocking survey results.

“While we welcome attempts to train and recruit new midwives, this government is doing nothing to stop the experienced and qualified ones from leaving. At the same time, as demands on services and the pressures on maternity staff are rising, staff numbers are going down,” she stressed.

It wasn’t just the low scores given by midwives in the Staff Survey but the dramatic drop in satisfaction they reported – just 6 per cent agreed they had enough staff to do their jobs properly, a fall of two thirds from the year before.

With Donna Ockenden warning in her final report on the Shrewsbury maternity scandal that midwife shortages were a major safety concern, efforts to retain valuable midwives must urgently be accelerated.

Also on today

In Recovery Watch, James Illman looks at the debates around the national pilot sites that are investigating how to make greater use of patient-initiated follow-ups, and in news we report on a trust board that has backed the medical director who oversaw the dismissal of a whistleblower in a case linked to patient deaths.