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Rishi Sunak Pledges "Fastest Improvement" in NHS Waits, Public Don't Trust Police To Solve Crimes

Rishi Sunak visited the University Hospital of North Tees (Alamy)

6 min read

Rishi Sunak has today launched a healthcare plan, pledging to deliver the “largest and fastest” improvement in waiting times in the history of the NHS as people face record delays in accessing vital healthcare.

The Prime Minister visited a hospital in the north east of England this morning, where he announced plans to tackle the crisis in the NHS and reduce waiting times. 

Speaking at the University Hospital of North Tees, Sunak said the plan will aim to increase capacity in the NHS, increase the workforce, discharge more patients from hospital, deliver more care outside of hospital, and improve the 111 service. 

“If we can deliver on it, I know we will see the largest and fastest improvement in waiting times in the NHS’s history,” he said. 

As NHS patients face record waiting times for ambulances, the plan will focus on expanding care outside of hospitals and expanding the use of ‘virtual wards’ as an alternative to in-person hospital care.

The plans will set out a target of 50,000 people being treated each month at home, either through visits by clinicians or via video call technology. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Up to 20 per cent of hospital admissions are avoidable with the right care in place. By expanding the care provided in the community, the most vulnerable, frail and elderly patients can be better supported to continue living independently or recover at home.

“This includes rolling out more services to help with falls and frailty as well as supporting up to 50,000 patients a month to recover in the comfort of their own homes. Not only will patients benefit from better experiences and outcomes, it will ease pressure on our busy emergency departments.”

NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said the NHS has faced “unprecedented pressure” due to a high volume of flu and Covid cases. 

“Our extensive planning ahead of winter has helped to boost capacity – from extra 111 and 999 call handlers, to new falls services and more beds – and we now aim to build on that progress to help speed up care and improve the experiences of patients,” she said.

The NHS, alongside other areas of the public sectors, faces additional pressure from widespread strike action from nurses, ambulance workers, and potentially junior doctors over pay disputes. 

Questions remain over Nadhim Zahawi tax scandal even after sacking

The Prime Minister faces continued criticism over his appointment in the first place of Nadhim Zahawi as party chairman, who he sacked on Sunday following an investigation into his tax affairs.

There are also questions over how Zahawi might respond in the coming weeks, as he settles into the backbenches. In his resignation letter, Zahawi made no admission of guilt, but criticised the media for an Independent headline which referenced “the noose tightening” around Zahawi over his tax affairs.

According to The Times, Zahawi is “furious” about not having been given a chance to respond to the findings of the investigation before they were published on Sunday morning, along with Sunak's sacking letter, and is considering whether to publish a formal response.

Zahawi is the second Cabinet minister to lose his job since Sunak became Prime Minister in October 2022. 

An investigation is ongoing into bullying claims against Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, and a committee probe into whether former prime minister Boris Johnson misled Parliament over ‘partygate’ is also expected to start soon. 

Michael Gove blames government failure for Grenfell fire

Michael Gove
Michael Gove said the government should address its failings leading up to the Grenfell tragedy (Alamy)

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told The Sunday Times that “faulty and ambiguous” government guidance allowed the fire at Grenfell Tower to happen, causing 72 deaths in 2017. 

This is the first time a minister acknowledged that government failure played a part in the tragedy. 

Gove told Sky News that “lots of factors” contributed to the fire, and that the government “collectively has to take some responsibility”.

The housing secretary said he “absolutely would” apologise for government failings if asked to. 

"It is undeniably the case that the system of building regulation was not right," he said.

"I remember visiting the site just a couple of days after the fire and thinking that it was horrific that this had happened. The more that I discovered about the circumstances the more horrified I was.

"There were people in that building who had warned beforehand that they were in potential danger. The warnings were not heeded.

"I'm the first, I hope, to acknowledge that we haven't done right by the bereaved and the residents and survivors from Grenfell and that is one very, very important mission.”

He also said he wanted to abolish the “outdated, feudal” leasehold system of home ownership by the end of this Parliament.

Public do not trust police to solve crimes

The public places little trust in police to solve crimes and think anti-social behaviour in the UK is out of control, according to a new report. 

The More in Common think tank carried out surveys which showed 68 per cent of the public believe the police have given up on trying to solve crimes like shoplifting and burglaries altogether.

Almost half surveyed said they don’t trust police officers, despite the survey being carried out before the crimes of serial rapist PC David Carrick were revealed to the public.

The report also shows that the public now trust Labour more than the Conservatives to tackle crime.

‘Red wall’ voters were most likely to say crime is an important issue for them – a key demographic the Labour Party will look to target in the next general election.

The UK director of More in Common, Luke Tryl, said: "The message from our research is stark. The public think that crime and anti-social behaviour are out of control and they have lost confidence in the police’s ability to deal with it. 

“In conversations across the country we heard the public’s frustration at how vandalism, theft and burglary had been all but decriminalised, thanks to an approach to policing that has its priorities all wrong and which is sending communities into a spiral of decline. 

“Reversing that fall in confidence means a return to visible common sense policing."

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