PMQs: Sunak challenges Starmer on ‘out of date’ NHS plans
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Brits are divided on using the private sector to tackle eye-watering NHS waiting lists, new polling shows. An exclusive poll by Techne for Express.co.uk found 41 percent of respondents support the move, while 41 percent do not. Some 18 percent did not know.
The survey of 1,624 British adults from January 11 to 12 comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for the private sector to be used in a bid to combat backlogs.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister made slashing NHS waiting lists for treatment one of his five priorities for this year, with the queue currently at 7.19 million people.
It comes Rishi Sunak this week admitted he has previously used private healthcare following intense speculation about whether he relied the NHS, which is under high pressure this winter.
The polling found the question of whether the private sector should be used to help the health service was one Brexiteers and Remainers agreed on.
Some 41 percent of Leavers and Remain-backers said they did support using the private sector.
But Tory voters were more likely than their Labour counterparts to back the move.
Some 45 percent of Conservatives said yes, compared to 38 percent of voters for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.
It comes after Sir Keir said more than 200,000 extra patients on waiting lists could get treatment each year if private capacity was used effectively.
The Labour leader was forced to defend backing the use of the private sector to drive down NHS waiting lists despite his leadership pledge to “end outsourcing in our NHS”.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “We’re not talking about privatising the NHS. The NHS has always used elements from the private sector, GPs are an example of that.”
Pressed about his pledge, Sir Keir replied: “Outsourcing of some issues and functions I don’t think has been very effective.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister revealed earlier this week that he is registered with an NHS GP but admitted he had previously used private healthcare.
Mr Sunak, whose father was a GP and mother ran a pharmacy, had come under weeks of intense pressure after previously refusing to answer questions about whether he had private healthcare.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, he told MPs: “I am registered with an NHS GP. I have used independent healthcare in the past and I’m also grateful to the Friarage Hospital for the fantastic care they have given my family over the years.”
The Prime Minister’s press secretary later added that while he believed in principle personal health details should remain private, he had set out his arrangements due to “the level of interest and in the interests of transparency”.
But some commentators defended Mr Sunak – whose combined wealth with his wife Akshata Murty is £730 million, according to the Sunday Times rich list – amid the row over if he uses private healthcare.
Former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney said: “Who cares if Rishi Sunak has private health care? If he does, he takes pressure off the NHS!
“Why do we have this absurd inverse snobbery about NHS care when many Labour MPs send their kids to private school? And how many journalists go BUPA?”
Meanwhile, GB News’s political correspondent Tom Harwood said: “There could be an argument that people who are very wealthy it would be a good thing for them to have private health care, perhaps it helps the country.”
Entrepreneur Charlie Mullins added: “What’s all the fuss about. He’s a wealthy man, that’s not illegal. If he doesn’t use an NHS GP surely that’s one extra pensioner who gets an appointment.”
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