Streeting Labour will not be able to just turn on spending taps to help NHS

17/12/2023

Streeting: Labour will not be able to just turn on spending taps to help NHS

A Labour government would be unable to just turn on the spending taps to help the NHS and investment must be linked to reform, according to the shadow health secretary.

Wes Streeting said he remains committed to keeping the NHS free at the point of use, but warned changes are needed to avoid overwhelming demand on the service and public finances.

He added even if shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves had a “complete personality transplant” and wanted to be a “big spending chancellor, she might turn the tap on, but there’ll be nothing in the tank”.

Mr Streeting’s comments came after he previously told The Sunday Times the NHS “uses every winter crisis and every challenge it faces as an excuse to ask for more money”.

Appearing on Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Mr Streeting said: “When you look at the challenges facing the NHS – not just now, but into the long-term – we’ve got the triple whammy of a growing ageing society, rising chronic disease and rising cost pressures.

“Unless we keep a focus, a sharp focus on all three, we threaten to not just overwhelm the NHS in terms of demand, but bankrupt the NHS financially.

“What I’ve been setting out is the case for both investment and reform, because pouring ever-increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money into a broken system is wasteful in every sense.

“It’s a waste of money we don’t have, it’s a waste of time that isn’t on the NHS’s side, and it’s a waste of potential, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that the NHS as a public service free at the point of use can exist for the next 75 years, but we’ve got to modernise and change in order for it to be sustainable in the longer term.”

Mr Streeting criticised the Government for its handling of the NHS over the last 13 years, saying: “There isn’t a great deal of money to go around and we can’t be complacent about that. I think there is a complacency that assumes that we can just turn the taps on.”

Pressed on who he believes is complacent, Mr Streeting said: “Well, I think it’s a general complacency. I think it’s a general complacency about the NHS, it’s sustainability in its future.

“What I’ve been setting out over the last two years as shadow health and care secretary. Yes, proposals for investment, fully costed and fully funded, but also linked to reform.”

He added: “So, there will be investment with Labour, but it’s got to be linked to reform and I am worried about the complacency that against the backdrop of appalling public finances people assume that an incoming Labour government will just be able to turn the taps on.

“Even if Rachel Reeves had a complete personality transplant and became a big spending chancellor, she might turn the tap on, but there’ll be nothing in the tank.

“So, we’ve got to be honest about the fact the public finances are in a mess, we’ve got to get a grip on that. That’s why Labour’s priority is going for growth.

“The answer to the NHS isn’t just more money, it’s investment and reform that delivers results.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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