Rishi Sunak pauses public sector pay rise but promises rises for NHS …
Rishi Sunak wants everyone to enjoy the benefits of a great NHS - just not him.
The Guardian reports that while the prime minister pays all the usual lip service to free healthcare, he himself is registered with a private GP practice in West London that guarantees all patients with urgent concerns will be seen “on the day”.
The publication reports the clinic charges £250 for a half-hour consultation and offers appointments in the evenings and at weekends and consultations by email or phone that cost up to £150.
It also charges home visits costing between £400 and £500 and up to £80 for prescriptions.
While Sunak enjoys "on the day" appointments, over in the NHS things couldn't be more different. NHS England figures show that just 41.5 per cent of GP appointments in September took place on the same day, with a further 8 per cent taking place the following day. About 19 per cent of appointments took place between two and seven days after booking, while 13.5 per cent of patients had to wait up to two weeks, and 5 per cent more than a month.
Waits in A&E and for ambulances are at record highs and growing NHS waiting lists have left a record 2.5m people unable to work because of long-term sickness, with an extra 133,000 people falling out of the workforce for health reasons in the three months to September alone.
In last week’s autumn statement, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced a £3.3bn increase in NHS funding to protect it this winter, as well as plans for a major NHS efficiency review. Sunak has also promised no patient would wait longer than two weeks to see a GP and that everyone who needs an urgent appointment would be able to get one on the same day.
Yesterday, the PM told the CBI: “We also need to create a culture of innovation in our public services. I grew up in an NHS family — it’s in my blood. And as your prime minister, I will always protect an NHS free at the point of use.”
He also described investment in robotics as "low hanging fruit" that will drive up pay and economic growth "quickly".
Sunak refused to answer questions at the G20 summit in Bali last week about whether he had private healthcare, saying only that it was “not appropriate” to talk “about one’s family’s healthcare”.
Sunak was also asked during the summer leadership campaign on when he and his family last used the health service. He said: “You wouldn’t expect me to talk about my kids’ medical [history], but of course we use the NHS.”
Paul Evans, director of the NHS Support Federation, an independent group of researchers and journalists, told the Guardian: “The NHS can consistently provide responsive care to the whole population, but only when it is properly funded. Private healthcare is not a realistic option for most people. Of course the PM can ‘go private’ if he wishes, but it is a reminder that we need politicians that have a long-term belief in the publicly run NHS which most of us rely upon.”
Dr Ellen Welch, a GP and co-chair of the Doctors’ Association UK, added: “If NHS general practice continues to be neglected and private practice becomes the norm, it is the least well-off who will suffer.”
Dr John Puntis, co-chair of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, said: “It should be no surprise that Rishi Sunak has private medical care arrangements; this will be the norm for many of the rich and powerful … those making decisions about vital public services are often least likely to use them, which of course reinforces their ideological animosity.”
But when Kay Burley quizzed Tory MP Liam Fox on the matter this morning, Fox defended him:
\u201c#KayBurley: Sunak says the NHS is in his blood, but he pays \u00a3250 to see a doctor as soon as possible.. he just jumps the queue?\n\nLiam Fox(Tory MP): He should do that if that's what he chooses to do\n\nKB: He's a rich bloke.. taxing us more.. jumping the queue when it suits him\u201d
indy100 has contacted Downing Street to comment on this story.
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