Dennis Skinner – the UK’s oldest MP – has told the Labour Party conference “half of London would be dead” if foreign NHS workers were to leave the health service.
The 86-year-old MP told delegates he “wouldn’t be on this rostrum” without the doctors and nurses who had saved his life multiple times.
“When I had a heart bypass in 2003, I’ll never forget that steady hand of the doctor that found a way from my groin straight to my heart,” Skinner told a packed conference hall.
“I watched every movement. I thought: ‘If ever he makes a slip, then that’s the end. There will be no more speeches at the Labour Party conference’.”
Ignoring the pleas of the chair for him to leave the stage, Skinner went on: “Then I had a hip replacement and because of the wonderful NHS, I can walk backwards.”
“I’ll finish on this,” he said. “I told the UKIP man in Parliament: ‘I’ve had a United Nations heart bypass – I had it in the London hospitals’.
“I had a Malaysian surgeon, I had a Nigerian registrar, I had a Dutch doctor.”
Earning himself a standing ovation from the crowd – and a hug from Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth – the veteran MP added: “I told the UKIP man – if you send all these people back from whence they came, half of London would be dead in six months.”
It comes after Ashworth delivered his own conference speech, announcing plans for Labour to fund a £5m travel scheme for children with cancer to get to and from hospital.