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Policy of my department is ‘the NHS is broken’, says new Health Secretary

Wes Streeting was appointed Health and Social Care Secretary (PA)
Wes Streeting was appointed Health and Social Care Secretary (PA)

The NHS is “broken” and “patients are being failed on a daily basis”, Wes Streeting has said in his first statement as Health and Social Care Secretary.

Mr Streeting said that the service is “going through the biggest crisis in its history” and it cannot be fixed overnight.

But he pledged to start the work to try and resolve the issues “today”.

In a statement, Mr Streeting said: “When we said during the election campaign, that the NHS was going through the biggest crisis in its history, we meant it.

“When we said that patients are being failed on a daily basis, it wasn’t political rhetoric, but the daily reality faced by millions.

“Previous governments have not been willing to admit these simple facts. But in order to cure an illness, you must first diagnose it.

“This Government will be honest about the challenges facing our country, and serious about tackling them.”

He went on: “From today, the policy of this department is that the NHS is broken.

“That is the experience of patients who are not receiving the care they deserve, and of the staff working in the NHS who can see that – despite giving their best – this is not good enough.”

Mr Streeting added: “This government has received a mandate from millions of voters for change and reform of the NHS, so it can be there for us when we need it once again. It will take time – we never pretended that the NHS could be fixed overnight.

“And it will take a team effort. It will be the mission of my department, every member of this government, and the 1.4 million people who work in the NHS, to turn our health service around.

“We have done this before. When we were last in office, we worked hand in hand with NHS staff to deliver the shortest waits and highest patient satisfaction in history. We did it before, and together, we will do it again.

“That work starts today.”

Referring to his treatment for kidney cancer in 2021, Mr Streeting said: “When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, the NHS saved my life. Today, I can begin to repay that debt, by saving our NHS.”

One of his first actions as the Health Secretary was to call junior doctors to begin to resolve their long-running dispute over pay.

Talks with a view to end the strikes will resume next week, he said.

A Royal College of Nursing spokesperson said: “NHS staff haven’t given up, but they are exhausted and need the Secretary of State to help.

“A fair pay settlement for all is the first step into rescuing health and care services, along with proper investment to boost recruitment and retention.

“We can’t keep asking the same dedicated health workers to do more with less.”