33 minutes ago
About sharing

A minister has defended the government’s record on the NHS, after a former Tory MP defected to Labour.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC Dr Dan Poulter said he could not look his NHS colleagues and patients in the eye and stay on as a Conservative MP.

Home Office Minister Chris Philp denied the Tories were deprioritising the NHS.

He added that more was being spent on the health service than at any point in history.

ON the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Dr Poulter, who works part time as a consultant psychiatrist, said the health service was now “unrecognisable” from how it was before he was an MP and “patients deserve better”.

The MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich added that Labour had a “track record” of improving the NHS and could be “trusted” with the health service.

Asked for his response, Mr Philp told the programme: “I don’t accept what Dan is saying at all…

“We’re now spending £165bn a year on the NHS, that’s more than ever, at any point in history.”

He added: “That isn’t the sign of a party de-prioritising the NHS. That is a sign of a political party, the Conservatives, investing heavily in our NHS because it is a priority.”

He insisted the Conservatives did value public services and was investing “record amounts of money in both education and health”.

Mr Philp also argued NHS waiting lists were now coming down despite the challenges of the pandemic and strike action.

Dr Poulter announced his defection on Saturday evening

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has welcomed Dr Poulter’s defection, saying “it’s time to end the Conservative chaos”.

Asked whether he was offered anything to join Labour, such as a seat in the House of Lords, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the programme: “Not that I’m aware of.

“He said very clearly to me when I was talking to him this week about how he might help, he’s going back to the NHS full-time when Parliament is dissolved, which can’t come soon enough as far as we’re concerned.”

Dr Poulter, who served as a health minister under the coalition government, has said he will sit as a Labour MP until the general election and then stand down.

No date for the next general election has been set – but it has to take place before the end of January 2025.

15 hours ago
2 hours ago