Keir Starmer ridiculed for suggesting internal bleeding should be treated without ‘going to see a GP’

Keir Starmer ridiculed for suggesting internal bleeding should be treated without ‘going to see a GP’

Starmer suggests patients with internal bleeding should receive help without ‘going to see a GP'


We very much hope that any individual with a serious amount of bleeding or blood loss seeks immediate medical attention, but as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer set out his vision to address the NHS crisis on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, he appeared to suggest it’s not something we need to see our GP about.

Expanding on his party’s plans for more self-referrals – something which has already been floated by shadow health secretary Wes Streeting – Sir Keir asked “would it not be possible” for that approach to be used.

“So that individuals don’t have to go to a doctor, use up a doctor’s time, in order to get referred to specialist help.

“If you’ve got back pain, you’d want to sort physio, you’d want it to be possible – I think – to self-refer. If you’ve got internal bleeding and you just need a test, there ought to be a way that doesn’t involve going to see a GP,” he said.

Hopefully, we don’t need to state the bleeding obvious (pun very much intended) as to why this is utter nonsense.

Fortunately, we don’t have to, as it wasn’t long before Twitter users ridiculed Sir Keir’s remarks, with the words ‘internal bleeding’ being a top trend on the platform.

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“Internal bleeding, you should probably be going to A&E? They will send you to a specialist,” noted one.

Another took aim at the Labour leader’s comments about back pain and wrote: “When my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer one of the early symptoms was back pain. Self-referral to a physio would have been no help at all, and probably delayed urgent treatment he needed.”

“I look forward to self-diagnosing internal bleeding and deciding which kind of specialist I need to see. FFS,” commented a third.

Writer Mollie Goodfellow retorted: “Ahh yes, the internal bleeding test, just wiggle around your belly and see if you can hear sloshing.”

“Did Labour check this with doctors,” asked Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones was incredulous, simply writing in all caps: “INTERNAL BLEEDING?”

Yes, Owen. We can’t believe it either.

Rachel Clarke, a writer and palliative care doctor, branded Sir Keir’s self-referral proposals as “monumentally stupid and insulting on multiple levels”.

“The NHS is, of course, in need of reform. There is so much we could do more efficiently.

“But honestly? These attacks on general practice & dismissal of the role of GP as a bureaucratic waste of time betray spectacular ignorance of how healthcare works. Skilled triage is vital,” she added.

Jon Squires, a nurse specialist in palliative care, also helpfully tweeted: “As a health professional, if you’ve got or think you have internal bleeding bypass your GP and phone an ambulance.”

The US website Healthline, which features articles medically reviewed by health professionals, states on its page about haemorrhages: “You should seek emergency help if you suspect internal bleeding.”

Doesn’t get much simpler than that, and we’d be inclined to trust these health professionals over a politician.

Sorry not sorry, Sir Keir.

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