Rishi Sunak was told by a patient that he needed to “look after” the NHS and to “try harder” to support nurses by a patient during a visit to a south London hospital on Friday.

The Prime Minister, still in his first week in office, met with nurses and patients on a visit to a post-op ward at Croydon University Hospital.

One patient had stern words for Mr Sunak, when he asked about her care by the nurses.

“You need to pay them,” the patient could be heard telling the Prime Minister. Mr Sunak said his Government was trying.

“You are not trying, you need to try harder,” she told him.

Mr Sunak went on to say that that NHS was important. “Yes, and look after it,” she told him.

He also dodged a question about nurses’ pay during a visit to a hospital in Croydon.

Speaking to broadcasters, he was asked if he was happy that nurses are not getting a real-term increase in pay, amid fears of industrial action.

He said: “It is brilliant to be here at Croydon Hospital, to see the great work of the doctors and nurses here.

“One of the priorities for my Government is going to be tackling the Covid backlogs and supporting the NHS.

“We face lots of challenges as a country, but I am confident that we can fix the economy and deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto, including having a stronger NHS.”

Mr Sunak insisted that his party is “united” as he comes towards the end of his first week as Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister was asked by reporters during his visit to the hospital in Croydon whether the instability of recent weeks has anything to do with Brexit or whether there was an ongoing “civil war” within the Conservatives.

He said: “I am confident that our party is united. It is united behind delivering on the promise of the manifesto that we were elected on, with very strong support, in 2019.

“What does that manifesto say? It says we want to have a stronger NHS, that we want safer streets, that we want better schools, that we want to protect our borders and that we want to level up the economy across our country.

“That is what unites and excites all Conservatives, that is what excites me, and that is what I want to deliver for the people of this country.”

Rishi Sunak promised to put “fairness at the heart” of the “difficult decisions” the Government will be making as he seeks to plug a multi-billion pound black hole in the nation’s finances.

Speaking to broadcasters at the hospital, the Prime Minister said: “I acknowledged that mistakes have been made and part of why I’m now Prime Minister is my job is to fix them – and I’m confident that we can.

“The Chancellor has already said of course difficult decisions are going to have to be made.

"And I’m going to sit down and work through those with him.

“But what I want everyone to know is that we need to do these things so that we can get our borrowing and debt back on a sustainable path.

“That’s important because it means that we can get a grip of inflation. If we do that, it means we can limit as best as possible the increase in interest rates, which is important.

“But as we do that, I want people to be reassured, we will always do it with fairness at the heart, we will protect the most vulnerable and ensure that we can continue to grow the economy in the long run.”

Rishi Sunak declined to deny suggestions officials warned him against reappointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary and said she “raised” the issue with him before giving her the job.

The Prime Minister said: “The Home Secretary has acknowledged the mistake, she’s recognised she made a mistake, she’s taken accountability for that and that’s the right thing.

“Now, as I said in Parliament earlier this week, she raised this topic with me when I discussed reappointing her as Home Secretary and I’m confident that she’s learned from her mistake.”

He insisted he does not regret the appointment, saying: “No, as I have said, she’s accepted her mistake and learned from it, and I’m confident of that.”