Why is the health secretary declaring war on people who are ill?

Why is the health secretary declaring war on people who are ill?

Why is the health secretary declaring war on people who are ill? That is how it is being presented to us, at least.

Already, patterns are developing in Keir Starmer’s new Labour government – and in the way its actions are being reported.

And the words of… some… members of that government appear not to be helping.

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So here’s a story about health secretary Wes Streeting declaring an intention to revolutionise the economy by making the UK healthier.

And here’s the Mail making it seem that Streeting is attacking people with illnesses or injuries. Let’s examine the article:

Health Secretary Wes Streeting yesterday declared war on ‘sick note’ Britain.

‘Sick note Britain’ is a phrase that has been used to imply that our country is full of scroungers who spend their lives getting doctors to write sick notes for them. The impression This Writer gets from an introduction like that is, Streeting is attacking scroungers.

But we all know – don’t we? – that the number of people carrying out such deceptions is miniscule in comparison to the claims made about them by right-wing  populists.

The impression is reinforced by the next paragraph:

He used his first speech in his new role to outline plans to get people off benefits and NHS waiting lists and back to work.

Again, the implication is that people are on benefits under false pretences – and waiting lists are included in that.

Streeting’s words do not support that – but could be interpreted in that way.

He had previously stated that he believed the NHS is “broken” due to the size of waiting lists.

And the Mail article amplifies his hostility to waiting lists by stressing his interest in clearing them – in order to improve the economy:

“This is an economic growth department. And the health of the nation and the health of the economy are inextricably linked.

“By cutting waiting lists, we can get Britain back to health and back to work.

“I want to end the begging bowl culture, where the Health Secretary only ever goes to the Treasury to ask for more money. I want to deliver the Treasury billions of pounds of economic growth.

“This Government’s agenda for health and social care can help drag our economy out of the sluggish productivity and poor growth of recent years.”

By emphasising economic growth over improved health, Streeting seems to be supporting the right-wing narrative.

In fact, his attitude seems to be a sincere wish to clear waiting lists by making sick people healthy again – but even this is problematic:

In a move likely to anger the left of the Labour Party, Mr Streeting pledged to work ‘hand in hand’ with the private sector to speed-up access to drugs and technologies that can improve patient care and make the NHS more efficient.

So the story is not – exactly – as presented.

Streeting does want to clear waiting lists, and he does want this to improve the economy.

But it seems he doesn’t want to do this by dismissing patients’ claims of ill-health out-of-hand.

Instead – and this is where he appears to let himself down – he wants to use the private sector to expedite health improvements. That’s where he’s wrong; he should be supporting the NHS in developing new treatments; that would be safer.

And there’s always the possibility that Streeting is lying about wanting to improve patients’ health rather than just clearing them off waiting lists any way he can. We must monitor this situation very carefully.

Source: Labour declare war on ‘sick note Britain’ as Streeting unveils plans


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2 Comments

  1. Tony Dean July 10, 2024 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    So Wes Streeting, is using same lies and propaganda as the Tories and Sunak did, ably assisted by Liz Kendall’s speech to DEMOS. If Labour don’t know by now that the DWP is a pariah government department God help us.

  2. E July 10, 2024 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    It’s the ‘reverse ferret’ all over again. The Tories all but defunded the NHS and allowed waiting lists to grow astronomically. Rather than blame themselves they blame the people they’ve let down. So, if you’re on a waiting list for, say, knee surgery and you can’t work and it’s now been 3 years then YOU are the problem rather than the government that won’t spend money on the NHS. Belatedly they actually realise (Labour this time) that the way to cut the numbers on benefits is to address the enormous NHS waiting lists. Thus allowing those who CAN return to work to do so. But they’re not going to say it like that, are they? No, they want their Tory supporting voters to think they are ‘kicking scroungers off benefits’

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