LABOUR shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has continued to accept tens of thousands of pounds from donors with links to private healthcare while advocating for the NHS to pay private firms for use of their resources, the Sunday National can reveal.

Earlier this week, Streeting attracted criticism from Scottish politicians and Labour’s left after writing in an article for The Sun that he would fight the “middle-class lefties” who oppose expanding the NHS’s use of private health providers.

His register of interests shows that the intervention came after he accepted donations totalling around £175,000 from two donors with links to private healthcare firms.

The National: Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has claimed nearly five million patients every month wait more than a fortnight for a GP appointment (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

On February 6, Streeting (above, with party leader Keir Starmer) accepted £48,000 from OPD Group Ltd, which is listed as a company “controlled by” Peter Hearn.

He had accepted a donation of £12,000 from the same source on December 6, 2023, and another of £35,475 from a second firm controlled by Hearn between February 28 and September 8, 2023.

Hearn is a recruitment executive whose firms work with “senior NHS executive recruitment and helps private healthcare providers recruit healthcare professionals”, according to EveryDoctor, a medic-led group which campaigns for a better NHS.

Further, across four dates in November and December last year, Streeting accepted a total of £65,000 from John Armitage, a hedge fund manager with more than $500 million invested in UnitedHealth, the largest private health insurer in the world by revenue.

Armitage had previously handed Streeting £15,000 on April 12, 2023.

The above donations - which total around £175,000 - have all been made since Streeting faced controversy for accepting funding from donors with links to private health interests in January 2023.

They are all declared on his register of interests and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing.

Attention earlier in 2023 focused on £60,900 in donations from Hearn through a firm called MPM Connect, which Sky News reported had “no staff or website and is registered at an office in Hertfordshire where the secretary says she has never heard of them”.

OPD Group Ltd, through which Hearn’s newer donations have come, is also listed at the same Hertfordshire address and was previously controlled by MPM Connect. It has two employees and £12.5m in assets, according to the most recent documents available with Companies House.

OPD Group Ltd has no website and the Sunday National was unable to contact it for comment. Labour did not respond when asked if they had a contact for it.

Labour did say that links between Streeting's donors and private healthcare were "tenuous at best", and accused Scottish politicians opposing the plans of "hypocrisy" because private providers are currently used to provide some NHS care north of the Border.

READ MORE: 'Hold the door wide open' to NHS for private sector, says Labour shadow health sec

Dr Julia Patterson, the chief executive of EveryDoctor, said: "Private healthcare companies poach NHS staff to do the work, barely train any doctors themselves, and seek to make profits for shareholders. What's more, NHS private outsourcing has been linked to avoidable patient deaths.

“Any rhetoric from politicians suggesting that the private sector will save the NHS is just that, political rhetoric. Streeting should be focusing on practical solutions to support the millions of people who cannot access safe, timely treatment in the NHS at present.

“He needs to commit significant investment into the crumbling buildings, a significant pay rise across the board to all NHS staff, and Keir Starmer must reinstate his pledge to remove all private outsourcing from the NHS. The public deserves so much better than this."

As part of his Labour leadership campaign, Starmer (below) had promised to “end outsourcing” in the NHS.

However, he binned that pledge in 2022 and outsourcing to private firms is now a key plank of his party’s proposal to tackle NHS waiting lists.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

The SNP and Scottish Greens also took aim at Labour.

Amy Callaghan MP, the SNP’s health spokesperson at Westminster, said: "Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party has abandoned their principles and the founding principles of our National Health Service.

"Instead of offering those on the front line — like our doctors and nurses – a fair and decent wage rise, the Labour Party are offering billions of pounds to private investors.

"Be in no doubt - a vote for Labour is a vote for NHS privatisation.”

READ MORE: 'Vote Labour for privatisation': Scottish parties hit out at Labour's NHS plans

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay MSP said that “far too much of the NHS in England has already been sold off and privatised by successive Labour and Tory governments”.

She added: “The answer to the problems our NHS is facing is not a greater private sector influence, it is investment in frontline staff and services.

“We’re facing a staffing crisis thanks to the disaster that is Brexit, but Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting are clear that they have no intention of reversing one of the worst political decisions in the UK's history which has hammered our NHS.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour is proud to be supported by successful business people, who are persuaded by our plans to rebuild the NHS after more than a decade of Tory and SNP ruin. Attempts to link them to private healthcare are tenuous at best.

“The SNP government in Holyrood is using the private sector to treat NHS patients in Scotland, and did so when Humza Yousaf was health secretary – you can smell the stench of their hypocrisy from here.”

EveryDoctor has created a map showing MPs who have accepted money from donors with links to private health interests and locations where private resources are being used to provide NHS care. It is understood the campaign will look at updating the map for the upcoming General Election. You can find it here.