‘I am now in charge of fixing the NHS’: Rishi Sunak reveals blueprint to help UK hospitals deal with crisis – in first major speech of his premiership

  • Rishi Sunak to take personal charge of handling NHS crisis tomorrow
  • He will pledge to bring out an ‘urgent care recovery plan’ later this month
  • In tomorrow’s speech, he will look at the detailed strategy to deal with the big challenges

Rishi Sunak will take personal charge of the handling of the NHS crisis tomorrow.

The prime minister will use the first major speech of his premiership to acknowledge the unprecedented scale of the pressures facing hospitals – and invite the public to judge him on his response.

Mr Sunak will set out his comprehensive approach to solving the pressure on the health service, including filling hospital beds with a renewed focus on tackling discharge delays.

He will pledge to bring in an ‘urgent care recovery plan’ later this month, together with a recovery plan for primary care to improve access to GPs.

In tomorrow’s speech, he will detail his strategy to deal with key challenges, including industrial strife crippling public services and hyperinflation.

Mr Sunak will set out his comprehensive approach to solving the pressure on the health service, including filling hospital beds with a renewed focus on tackling discharge delays.

The prime minister will warn how the country cannot afford the double-digit wage hikes demanded by militant union bosses, and will also confirm plans for ‘drastic’ measures to limit strike disruption.

But he will also set out his vision for building a better Britain, including plans to make maths compulsory by the age of 18 to boost Britons’ skills and productivity.

He would say it is time to ‘re-imagine our approach to numbers’ – and warns that the current approach to maths is ‘letting our children down’.

Mr Sunak is also expected to expand on comments he made to The Daily Mail last month in which he said his priority was to restore people’s ‘peace of mind’ after a period of political and economic turmoil.

Whitehall sources said the NHS crisis has risen to the top of his domestic agenda in recent weeks and he now holds intense daily meetings to get ‘to the bottom’ of the NHS.

A source said, “It’s something they’ll focus on this month and maybe next month.”

The speech comes against a bleak backdrop of problems in the NHS following the pandemic. A range of hospital trusts and ambulance services have recently announced serious incidents as they struggle to deal with a combination of record backlogs and rising flu and Covid cases.

Some health chiefs have claimed the delay is causing an extra 500 deaths per week.

Ambulances wait outside Portsmouth hospital due to lack of rooms as patients wait hours inside vehicles

Ambulances wait outside Portsmouth hospital due to lack of rooms as patients wait hours inside vehicles

His intervention came as follows:

  • The ministers discussed plans to expand the role of pharmacists to ease the growing pressure on village panchayats.
  • Health chiefs have ordered paramedics to spend no more than 45 minutes discharging patients from hospital in a controversial new ‘dump and run’ approach.
  • Commuters and commuters endured a day of misery on their return to work after Christmas as the RMT union held its first of two 48-hour strikes this week.
  • Downing Street warned doctors, nurses and paramedics that a further strike in the sector would lead to more harmful disruption for patients.
  • Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer was set to outline plans for a ‘different way of governing’ in his keynote speech yesterday.

Downing Street said ministers were ‘upfront’ with the public that the NHS would face an ‘extremely challenging winter’ following the pandemic.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said the PM was ‘confident’ the health service had the necessary funding, but acknowledged some people would face long delays in getting treatment.

The spokesperson said, “We expected to see backlogs and increased wait times … That’s what we’re seeing play out.”

“We are confident that we are providing the NHS with the necessary funding to tackle these issues,” he added. Asked if the NHS was in crisis, he said it was ‘an unprecedented challenge’.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the government’s focus was on getting people out of hospital who do not need to be there, to speed up delays in handing over ambulances.

Mr Sunak’s plans will include a huge focus on reforming social care to make it easier for older patients to be discharged

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