LABOUR would use private companies to help tackle NHS waiting lists, the party’s shadow health secretary has admitted.

In an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Wes Streeting said using private providers to tackle the issue was previously “effective” when Labour was in government.

Under both Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour spoke often about the need to protect the health service from privatisation.

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But Streeting’s comments offer another indication that Labour is looking towards the Blair years for their inspiration – as during the 90s and early 2000s, the government increased the use of private companies within the NHS.

Due to the pandemic’s impact on the NHS, England currently has its highest waiting lists on record. For example 300,000 people have now been waiting more than a year for surgery, compared to 1600 prior to Covid-19.

The National:

Speaking to Robinson, Streeting claimed that Blair (above) and Gordon Brown had proved that using the private sector to tackle waiting lists is “popular with patients”.

However he blamed the Tory government for the need to use them in the first place.  

“No doubt the next Labour government may have to use private sector capacity to bring down NHS waiting lists, and I won't shirk that for a minute to get people better health outcomes,” the MP told listeners.

"But I will be pretty furious at the costs involved, because it shouldn't be the case that because Tory governments run down the NHS, we have to spend more taxpayers money than would be necessary in the private sector because we haven't sorted out the public sector."

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Streeting, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer last year, said his own recovery had been hit by Covid’s impact on the NHS.

He said he was supposed to have a six-month follow-up scan, but nearly eight months have passed and he is yet to secure an appointment. Despite this, Streeting said it didn’t keep him up at night as he is at low risk.

He added: “There are lots of other people who are on those waiting lists or who are on secondary care, and even with the critical incidents declared this month, who may see that their... cancer treatment disrupted in some ways.

"So I'm not complacent about this, and my own experience has made me even more passionate about bringing down waiting lists."