Labour will take on “hostile” health unions that are dragging down the NHS, according to the shadow health secretary.
Wes Streeting cautioned in an interview with The Telegraph that the NHS was “a service, not a shrine” and needed to “reform or die.”
Mr Streeting, who stated that he had been waiting for months for delayed scans after cancer treatment, said that the health sector was in a “existential crisis,” with “appalling” access to care.
As the NHS prepared for a wave of nurses and paramedics going on strike, the shadow minister urged all unions to prioritise patients.
The MP for Ilford North claimed that if Labour won the election, he would not be afraid to take on unions that are impeding patient care, singling out the British Medical Association (BMA) as “hostile” to the concept that patients should demand higher standards.
Mr Streeting was shocked when a GP conference recently decided to reduce surgery core hours to nine to five.
“I’m not frightened to take on vested interests, and I’m not afraid to tell the BMA or other unions ‘no’ – and I think people respect that honesty,” Mr Streeting said, adding that he will take on individuals in his own party who are impeding NHS change.
On Thursday, up to 100,000 nurses will take part in the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) first nationwide strike in support of a 19% wage increase.
Up to 15,000 procedures are expected to be cancelled next week alone, with over 100,000 outpatient visits potentially impacted.
Meanwhile, railway strikes will shut down most of the nation this week, with four days of action scheduled.