Keir Starmer vows to slash ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ in NHS

Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to get rid of “bureaucratic nonsense” with a plan to allow patients to bypass GPs and refer themselves to specialists. The Labour leader has

also formally backed his shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s reforms, which would in effect nationalise GP services. Labour has proposed making general practitioners

salaried NHS employees, though the proposal has attracted criticism from some quarters of the medical profession. Sir Keir, writing in The Sunday Telegraph, said: “If we

don’t get real about reform, the NHS will die,” as he gave his backing to an overhaul of the current system in which GPs operate. Sir Keir also said he wants Labour to be

“bold and courageous” in reforming the NHS, but he denied any suggestion that he was moving towards privatisation of the health service. “Free at the point of use is the

founding principle of the NHS, and it is absolutely fundamental to me,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. “It will always be free at the point of use – but that

doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use the private sector as well.” The Labour leader added: “It’s not the private sector that is the reform we are looking for. I want a preventative

model; we are living longer, but it means the NHS has to change – intervention earlier, more technology ... If we don’t reform the health service it will be in managed

decline.” The pledges are an echo of New Labour’s promises in 1997, when Tony Blair swept into power on the back of a manifesto that vowed to slash NHS waiting times and

make the service more patient-focused.