Starmer: Free at the point of use will remain governing principle of NHS

Sir Keir Starmer has defended backing the use of the private sector to drive down NHS waiting lists, despite his leadership pledge to “end outsourcing in our NHS”.

The Labour leader told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “We’re not talking about privatising the NHS. The NHS has always used elements from the private sector, GPs are an example of that.”

Pressed about his pledge, Sir Keir replied: “Outsourcing of some issues and functions I don’t think has been very effective.

Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the private health sector could be used more effectively (PA)

“Let me be clear, we’re not talking about privatising the NHS, we’re talking about using the private sector effectively.

“Free at the point of use is an absolutely governing principle as we go into this review, but we do need change and reform.

“We’re going to consult on this in the course of the coming months and then they’ll be a 10-year plan for the NHS under the next Labour government.

“We’re not going to back down the first time somebody says, well I wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t change this.”