16 July 2023

NHS ‘not serving its purpose’, says Sir Tony Blair

16 July 2023

The NHS is “not serving its purpose” and needs more private sector involvement, former prime minister Sir Tony Blair has said.

The New Labour leader said the service was failing to provide decent care to all patients, pointing to “terrible” waiting times and post-pandemic pressures.

He added that “private” should not be considered a “dirty word” and there should be “complete cooperation between the public and private sector”.

The former prime minister told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “The NHS is a great institution and we should keep its principles.

“But the truth? I mean, you don’t have to be a genius to look at it and say it’s not, it’s not serving its purpose.”

Asked if the NHS was providing a good standard of care, he replied: “No, at the moment, it’s, I think, in some respects, it is obviously the staff do a great job in difficult circumstances.

“And I think the general experience of people is, if it’s, if you’re in really acute difficulty, then it still does provide very good care but a lot of the waiting list are terrible.

“Covid, of course, has made it all worse.

“But the truth is, you’re not going to have a lot more money to spend.

“But you do have to think how do we do things completely differently.”

The former Labour leader has previously called for private sector involvement in the health service, having used the 75th anniversary of the health service to claim it would continue “down a path of decline” unless a greater role was given to private health providers.

He has also suggested that patients should be allowed to pay to speed up access to healthcare, echoing proposals made by Conservative former health secretary Sajid Javid.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said ministers remain committed to free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare following his predecessor’s intervention.

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