Wes Streeting: NHS should “seek to utilize” private healthcare capacity

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has stated that he would like the NHS to rely on the private sector for the short-term so it can reduce its dependency in the future. He also rejected New Labour’s “ideological belief” that competition will drive up standards.

In an interview, streeting defended his “unfashionably-nuanced” viewpoint, saying: “I could simultaneously want to reduce the NHS’s reliance on private sector, by ensuring it has the necessary staff, equipment and technology to treat patients in a timely manner, while also recognising there is some capacity currently in the private sectors, and we should try to use it.”

Some see him as a potential Labour leader. He said that he received advice from the architects of Tony Blair’s health policy, such as former health secretary Alan Milburn, and ex-Number Ten adviser Paul Corrigan. He said they had “rolled up the sleeves” to assist his team in “preparing seriously for government”.

Streeting wanted to differentiate his vision of the role of the independent sector from that of Blair, whose administration created a new cadre for independent sector treatment centers. These were often run by private companies to compete and challenge the NHS.

Blair’s administration has also increased its use of private financing initiatives (PFIs), to finance infrastructure projects.

He said that he was less convinced by New Labour’s ideological conviction that competition in the public sector would necessarily drive up standards, even though Tony always claimed that he was not ideological.

He said that he would prefer that no one ever need to use the private sector, and that “the private sector fell off a precipice under the previous Labour government, because the NHS is so good, people did not feel the need for private care”.

At the time, he cited significant reductions in waiting times for treatments and an increase in consultant pay for priority surgeries. “And this is my ambition once again: To make the NHS so great that no one feels compelled to go private,” said he.

Other signs suggest that Sir Keir’s Starmer team is trying to distance itself from the New Labour juggernaut, which swept into power in 1987 and the modern party that is expected to return to the top later this year. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor on Tuesday, criticised Blair for being in charge of key economic weaknesses which led to financial crisis.

Streeting, constrained by the strict fiscal rules of Reeves’s government, is promoting a “ruthlessly practical” agenda for the NHS, in which additional funding will be contingent on reforms including the introduction of new technologies and partnerships between cutting-edge companies.

If Labour wins power, he has promised to use spare capacity from the private sector to provide tens and thousands of patients with procedures like hip, knee, and eye surgery, which will be funded by the NHS.

Streeting, when asked if he could understand why some Labour Party members were opposed to the idea that profits should be given to private companies, insisted that he had won both the argument within the party as well as the debate nationally.

He also raised concerns about the possibility that the NHS could lose staff if it uses the private sector, as they both draw from the same pool. “I tell some of those online campaigns groups that I am not interested in their campaigning. . . Why not campaign against your colleagues who spend so much of their time in private practice?”

He was given a tour of the Moorfields Eye Hospital to learn how technology is being used in order to improve diagnosis, reduce pressure on emergency departments and increase patient choice. He saw a demonstration on how Moorfields and Google’s DeepMind had partnered to analyze millions of retinal photos to better understand patterns of sight loss.

Streeting expressed his concern about the fact that not all health chiefs are as open to innovation.

He called it “appalling” that NHS trusts took so long to use patient data for improving care. He argued that there should be a mandate from the top forcing services to share this information in order to benefit everyone. He said that the data did not belong to GPs or to NHS. It was our data.

Streeting’s health was in the NHS’s hands just three years before. At the age of 38 he was diagnosed with early-stage renal cancer while campaigning on a Bury car park.

He said that although his path was straightforward – the affected kidney had been removed within six month – he suffered from “pretty simple diagnostic failures” including being sent to the wrong type scan and waiting for months for results. If the cancer had metastasized, it would have been more serious. . . He said with a stutter. “Time matters.”

Streeting and Reeves committed to spend PS1.6bn during their first Parliament to pay for an additional 2mn appointments and surgeries in order to reduce waiting lists. Labour has pledged to also double the number modern scanners, such as CT and MRI machine where the UK lags behind many other OECD countries.

Streeting refused to reveal how Labour would fund these interventions, after the Tories stole his party’s flagship tax policy that closed a loophole in UK law for non-domiciled employees. The Tories will use this policy in their own Spring Budget. The party has to plug a gap of approximately PS2.6bn in order to meet its commitments.

He said Reeves “had some options available”, but that he could “be forgiven for not rushing” to give the magpies of the Conservative Party more Labour fruits to steal.

The NHS must “put the pedal down on the accelerator”. . . Streeting suggested that it is often too late to spread initiatives which have proven effective.

The “real innovation and drive” will come not from politicians nor NHS England, but rather “people at the frontline”. He said that we must give people the freedom to innovate.

Companies are frustrated that they have to deal with several NHS entities in order to get their solutions or products into England’s healthcare system, despite its buying power as a centralised service covering all Britons. Streeting stated that it should not be necessary for people to promote their products from one trust to another, or from system to systems.

He said that instead, pioneers and entrepreneurs need “a single entrance” to the NHS. He said that they should be offered “a fantastic proposition” which includes help with research, proof of concept, and regulatory approvals. . . He added that in exchange, we’d expect to get a great deal on the price and access speed for British patients. We would also help you export your products around the globe.

Post Disclaimer

The following content has been published by Stockmark.IT. All information utilised in the creation of this communication has been gathered from publicly available sources that we consider reliable. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this communication.

This communication is intended solely for informational purposes and should not be construed as an offer, recommendation, solicitation, inducement, or invitation by or on behalf of the Company or any affiliates to engage in any investment activities. The opinions and views expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Company, its affiliates, or any other third party.

The services and products mentioned in this communication may not be suitable for all recipients, by continuing to read this website and its content you agree to the terms of this disclaimer.