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Labour’s Starmer Pledges to Cut Heart Attacks and Strokes and Make NHS ‘Fit for the Future’

The Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has promised to reduce cardiovascular disease—including heart attacks and stroke—by 25 percent within a decade and bring down waiting times by 2030 so 95 percent of all accident and emergency (A&E) patients are seen within four hours.

Starmer made the pledges during a major speech on the National Health Service (NHS) which is part of Labour’s phony war, an unofficial general election campaign that could last until January 2025.

Speaking at an ambulance station in Braintree, Essex, and accompanied by shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, Starmer warned the NHS would not last another five years under a Conservative government.

The NHS was created by a Labour government in 1948 and Starmer said the Tories did not believe, in their “heart of hearts,” in its core promise.

Echoing Nye Bevan, the minister in Clement Attlee’s government who founded the NHS, Starmer said illness should be “neither an indulgence” to be paid for, “nor an offence” to be punished.

Starmer and Streeting promised to cut cardiovascular disease by a quarter, guarantee 75 percent of all cancer patients are diagnosed at stages one and two, and ensure ambulances respond to cardiac arrest call-outs within seven minutes.

The target on A&E patients has not been achieved nationally since 2015 but Starmer promised to make the NHS “fit for the future.”

He said: “We will fix the NHS. We will reform the NHS. Old values, new opportunities … an NHS, not just off its knees, but running confidently towards the future.”

Labour has also promised to invest in mental health and has a target for the suicide rate to start coming down within five years.

Starmer said Labour would hire 8,500 new staff to work in community-based mental health care and reduce the burden on hospitals.

Later he was challenged by BBC radio presenter Jeremy Vine but was adamant they could meet the target. He said, “We’ve said 8,500 and we’ve said we’ll fund it by closing the tax loophole for private equity.”

Starmer said targets needed to be “carefully calibrated” in order to prevent them having a “perverse impact.”

‘No Backsliding, No Excuses’

In his speech, Starmer promised there would be “no backsliding, no excuses” and added, “We will get the NHS back on its feet.”

The Labour leader proposed a ban on advertising junk food to children but ruled out imposing a salt and sugar tax, citing the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “The focus we put today is very clearly on advertising, this is something the government toyed with and then moved away from. That showed a fundamental weakness in their approach, an unseriousness about tackling the issues that really matter.”

But he added, “What we don’t want to do in a cost-of-living crisis is add to the burden of food costs.”

Starmer refused to put a figure on how many extra billions of pounds Labour would pump into the NHS and said, “It’s not all about money.”

Epoch Times Photo
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting visits an ambulance station in Braintree, Essex, on May 22, 2023. (PA)

On Sunday, Streeting said Labour was considering a number of public health measures and added, “We want to make sure that we’re not just living longer, but living more healthfully for longer.”

He told the BBC’s “Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg” programme, “On smoking, for example, we have said we will go a lot further than the government has, particularly not just on smoking, by the way, but on vaping, where we’ve got a whole generation of children and young people being addicted to nicotine on this government’s watch.”

“Teachers reporting children showing signs of nicotine addiction in the classroom. I think it’s outrageous the way these irresponsible industries behave,” Streeting added.

The Conservative Party pointed out cutting NHS waiting lists was one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s top five priorities.

Health minister Will Quince said, “It’s easy to shout from the sidelines, but the truth is Labour in Wales are currently missing all the targets Sir Keir Starmer has just set out for England.”

Labour Missing Targets in Wales: Minister

Quince said: “Labour have been running the health service in Wales for 25 years and haven’t met these targets. Sir Keir has a record of changing his mind. We can’t trust these will be Labour’s targets next week let alone in five years’ time.”

The minister added, “This Conservative government has already reduced 18-month waits by 91 percent from their peak, and two-year waits are virtually eliminated.”

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts across the country, said Labour’s plans were “ambitious.”

Sir Julian Hartley, the group’s chief executive, said he agreed with Labour’s goal to reduce waiting times and added: “Trusts have made remarkable progress on the longest waits for planned operations given the recent challenges. However, this goal will only be achieved if it’s underpinned by adequate funding for health and care workers as well as for infrastructure.”

PA Media contributed to this report.

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