Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, has publicly acknowledged that he has failed to fulfil his key promise of reducing NHS waiting lists. This pledge was one of his five commitments to voters at the beginning of 2023.
However, instead of decreasing, waiting lists have increased by approximately half a million since then.
In an interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Sunak openly admitted that the government has not made sufficient progress in addressing this issue. When Morgan asked him directly if he had failed on his pledge, Sunak responded with a straightforward “yes.”
Morgan further highlighted the fact that although waiting lists are currently slightly decreasing, they remain nearly half a million higher than they were at the start of the previous year.
Sunak acknowledged the reality of the situation and attributed the increase in waiting lists to various factors, including industrial action.
He emphasized that the government has invested record amounts in the NHS, increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and scanners. Sunak stated that these investments have enabled the NHS to provide more comprehensive care than ever before.
However, he also acknowledged the impact of ongoing strikes by junior doctors and consultants, which have been ongoing for over a year. On a positive note, Sunak mentioned that the government did settle with NHS nurses, avoiding further strike action in that sector.
Aside from the pledge to reduce waiting lists, Sunak promised to halve inflation, decrease debt, stimulate economic growth, and prevent small boats from carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel. Out of these five commitments, only one – halving inflation – has been definitively achieved.
Wes Streeting, the Shadow Health Secretary, criticized Sunak’s admission, stating that it merely confirmed what has been evident to everyone for years – the Conservative government has failed to handle the NHS. Streeting emphasized that the Labour Party is committed to restoring the NHS and will succeed where Sunak has fallen short.
Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman, echoed these sentiments, expressing relief that Sunak has finally acknowledged his failure to reduce NHS waiting lists.
She argued that the Conservative government’s neglect has severely impacted local health services, leaving them struggling to cope. Cooper called for an end to planned real-terms cuts to NHS spending, emphasizing that enough is enough.
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