Wes Streeting claims NHS uses winter crisis as 'excuse for more money' and people are furious

Wes Streeting claims NHS uses winter crisis as 'excuse for more money' and people are furious

Related video: Wes Streeting says NHS should remain free after Tony Blair urged for reform

Sky News

A week after Sir Keir Starmer sparked controversy for appearing to praise the divisive former PM Margaret Thatcher, another high-profile Labour MP has come under fire for claiming the NHS “uses every winter crisis” as an “excuse to ask for more money”.

The shocking claim came from Wes Streeting, the shadow health and social care secretary, during an interview with The Timeswhile on a visit to Singapore.

Describing his approach as “tough love”, Streeting made a number of criticisms about how the health service operates currently, saying “patients in hospital don’t really know what’s going on”, the NHS “claims to be patient-centred, but it really isn’t”, and that it is “not the envy of the world”.

He said: “I think people working in the NHS and the patients using the NHS can see examples of waste and inefficiency. I don’t think it’s good enough that the NHS uses every winter crisis and every challenge it faces as an excuse to ask for more money.

“The NHS is going to have to get used to the fact that money is tight and it’s going to have to get used to switching spend, and rethinking where and how care is delivered to deliver better outcomes for patients and better value for taxpayers’ money.

“At the moment, I think we get the worst of all worlds, which is poor outcomes alongside poor value for taxpayers.”

The piece concludes with a quote from Streeting stressing the NHS “is a service, not a shrine”.

Streeting’s remarks have since been criticised and branded “concerning” by Twitter/X users – not least because, if the polls stay as they are until the next election, he looks set to become the UK’s next health secretary:

In a detailed thread responding to the Times article, palliative care doctor and author Rachel Clarke wrote: “When you insinuate to the public that NHS staff ‘use’ the grotesquely awful winter conditions we – patients and staff alike – endure every year to demand more funding, you are quite openly and deliberately undermining public trust in the NHS. Are you really OK with that?

“Even more damagingly, whether you intended it or not, with that insinuation you’ve given NHS staff the most massive kick in the nuts. Do you have any idea how hellish it is to work in an NHS A&E over winter? How much staff give in those horrific conditions?

“I’ve seen the most experienced, tough, brilliant doctors in A&E break down and weep at the humanitarian crisis conditions of their departments in winter. How dare you insinuate they’re somehow ‘using’ those conditions for their own ends?

“Show some respect, please.”

Streeting is yet to respond to the criticism.

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