People waiting

Sunak addresses NHS problems and pledges to cut backlog in 2023

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday addressed the nation on a range of different topics from illegal immigration to the stumbling economy, but started his New Year’s speech by first attempting to assuage the public’s view on two of the most exigent issues – the challenges in A&E and the ongoing healthcare strikes.

Sunak highlighted how the Government is taking “urgent action” to overcome the A&E pressures, referencing the 7,000 extra hospital beds and the upscaling of domiciliary care to free up further capacity.

The Prime Minister then moved to the issue of strikes, saying: “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. So I want people to clearly understand the government’s position.

“We hugely value public sector workers like nurses. They do incredibly important work. That’s why we want a reasonable dialogue with the unions about what’s responsible and fair for our country. And in the coming days we will update you on the Government’s next steps.”

Shortly after, the Prime Minister revealed his “five pledges to deliver peace of mind” that he believes will form the foundations of a better future for the generations to come.

The first three focused on financial affairs – halving inflation, reducing debt, building the economy etc – but Sunak’s fourth promise was to NHS cut waiting lists. He said: “Fourth, NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly.”

Waiting lists surpassed seven million for the time during last August and the number of people waiting for treatment only continued to rise the following month.

Later in his speech, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer affirmed his desire to build a health service that centres around patients, saying his government will always protect the founding principle of the NHS being free at the point of use and, whilst the requisite changes needed to make the NHS better don’t include significant structural reforms, it does mean an NHS “where patients are in control.”

The Prime Minister also made passing mention of the workforce strategy his government are working to develop in conjunction with the various professions that make up the health sector.

He finished speaking about the NHS by saying: “We all share the same objective when it comes to the NHS: to continue providing high quality, responsive healthcare for generations to come. And that’s what we are going to deliver.

“Our vision of change will revitalise every aspect of our lives – better jobs, stronger communities, world-class education, an NHS built around patients.”

To read the full speech, click here.

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