LABOUR have been accused of a “betrayal” of the NHS after their shadow health secretary said he would force it to use services from the private health sector.

Wes Streeting, in an article for the Sun, claimed that people complaining about increased use of private services in the NHS were “middle-class lefties” – and tried to draw a dividing line between them and “working families”.

Streeting, a key ally of party leader Keir Starmer who has been tipped as a future party leader himself, said the NHS was a “service, not a shrine”.

READ MORE: How the SNP were able to become party of working-class voters

He went on: “Operating theatres lie empty on weekends while millions of patients wait. Labour will get the NHS working around the clock, with an extra two million appointments on evenings and weekends a year.

“That’s the reform. It will come with investment of £1.1 billion, to pay staff for the extra shifts. With Labour, investment will always be linked to reform. Pouring more money in without reform would be like pouring water into a leaky bucket.

“We will also use spare capacity in the private sector to cut the waiting lists. Middle-class lefties cry ‘betrayal’. The real betrayal is the two-tier system that sees people like them treated faster – while working ­families like mine are left waiting for longer.”

Streeting urged Sun readers to back Labour and give the party a mandate to perform “major surgery” on the NHS.

The top MP’s intervention in the Sun came less than 24 hours after his frontbench colleague, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, also penned a piece for the paper.

Lammy used his article to launch a “personal” defence of the Union flag amid criticism of it appearing on Labour General Election campaign material.

The pair have both faced criticism for writing in the Sun, a paper Starmer said that he would not be talking to during his bid to become Labour leader.

Owen Thompson, the SNP’s chief whip at Westminster, called out Streeting for his comments on the NHS.

“Labour's betrayal of the NHS is for all to see,” he wrote. “The door is held wide open to private interests where profit will be king!”

Healthcare is devolved to Scotland but funding decisions made by the UK Government for the services in England have a direct impact on funding north of the Border.

NHS worker and SNP councillor Michelle Campbell said: “True reform of the NHS does not require privatisation.

“Opening that door will create opportunism to impact workers and push profiteering and capitalism above health outcomes.

“No one denies reform is needed; this approach to it however is foolish. This is Labour. Don’t forget this.”

The left-wing Labour-linked group Momentum also called out Streeting, writing: “Refusing to give the NHS the funding boost it needs. Attacking nurses, doctors and NHS staff crying out for a pay rise as 'middle-class lefties'. Doing it all in the Sun.

“This isn't what Labour members, NHS workers, or voters want. It's all for the right-wing press.”

It is not the first time Streeting has made clear his plans to force the NHS to use private sector health services.

“We’re going to be holding the door wide open and encouraging them to come in," he said last November. 

Gillian Mackay MSP, the Scottish Greens health spokesperson, said: "Labour is saying the quiet part out loud. The last thing the NHS in England needs is more private-sector involvement. Far too much of it has already been sold off and privatised by successive Labour and Tory governments.

"Unfortunately, this is entirely consistent with Wes Streeting and the UK Labour leadership's approach. The answer here is not a greater private sector influence, it is investment in frontline staff and services.

"With Scottish Greens in government, we will always stand for a publicly owned NHS based on human need and not corporate profits."