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LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer’s apparent U-turn on a commitment to end NHS outsourcing is “morally wrong and politically self-defeating,” campaigners said today.
The criticism from groups including Keep Our NHS Public and Momentum came after Mr Starmer told Sky News he would seek to use the private sector in the health service more “effectively” if elected prime minister.
The policy breaks a promise Mr Starmer made during his party leadership campaign in spring 2020 to abolish the use of external private providers.
The volte-face follows comments by shadow health secretary Wes Streeting urging Tory ministers to use private hospitals to help clear Covid pandemic-related treatment backlogs.
Mr Starmer leader told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “Outsourcing of some issues and functions I don’t think has been very effective.
“Let me be clear, we’re not talking about privatising the NHS, we’re talking about using the private sector effectively.
“Free at the point of use is an absolutely governing principle, but we do need change and reform.”
Grassroots group Momentum slammed the new approach as “undermining the NHS’s universal public sector principle and doubling down on a key driving force for the crisis we are currently suffering — the damaging role of profit-making companies in public health.
“For Keir Starmer to go back on his leadership pledge to end NHS outsourcing is morally wrong and politically self-defeating,” a spokesperson told the Morning Star.
Keep Our NHS Public’s Dr John Puntis noted numerous surveys which show the “vast majority of the public support the founding principles of the NHS and are opposed to private-sector involvement.
“Labour must decide where it stands on the NHS — is this with profiteering big business or with the people?"
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