Rishi Sunak exposes huge gaping hole in Starmer's NHS waiting times attack after Labour gifts PM an open goal

The two party leaders attacked each other during PMQs over the state of the NHS in the UK

Published Last updated

Rishi Sunak highlighted the NHS in Labour-run Wales was suffering from large ambulance waiting times as he hit back at Sir Keir Starmer's attacks in Prime Minister's Questions today.

The health service took centre stage in the Commons clash on the same day thousands of nurses across the country walked out in protest at pay and working conditions.

Starmer repeatedly asked the PM how long constituents would have to wait before they received care in England.

Starmer said: “It’s three minutes past 12. If somebody phones 999 now because they have chest pains and fear it might be a heart attack, when would the Prime Minister expect an ambulance to arrive?”

Rishi Sunak highlighted the NHS in Labour-run Wales was suffering from large ambulance waiting times
Rishi Sunak highlighted the NHS in Labour-run Wales was suffering from large ambulance waiting times

Sunak avoided answering the question before Starmer said the crisis facing the NHS is the fault of the Conservatives.

The Prime Minister quipped back: “Mr Speaker I mention the one place the honourable gentleman didn’t notice was Wales, where we know ambulance times are even worse than they are in England.”

He continued: “The reason this is the case, is because it’s not about politics. This is about the fact that the NHS in Scotland, in Wales, in England, is facing unprecedented challenges. Recovering from Covid, dealing with a very virulent and early flu season and everyone is doing their best to bring those wait times down.”

Sunak later continued: "“People are working as hard as they can to ensure they get the care they need. He talks about political games, he is a living example of playing political games when it comes to people’s healthcare. I’ve already mentioned what’s been going on in Wales, is he confident that in a Labour run NHS nobody is suffering? Of course they are Mr Speake because the NHS everywhere is under pressure.

“What we should be doing is supporting those doctors and nurses to make the changes we are doing.”

Union leaders have argued that underinvestment has led to extra strain being put on the NHS.

Sunak avoided answering the question before Starmer said the crisis facing the NHS is the fault of the Conservatives.
Sunak avoided answering the question before Starmer said the crisis facing the NHS is the fault of the Conservatives.

They argue better pay would help increase retention of staff.

Ambulance workers are also expected to announce new dates for industrial action in the coming days.

It means only those at risk of dying will likely be visited by paramedics.

Yesterday Lib Whitfield from the GMB union said: "Our members are saving lives day in, day out, and that is actually at risk because of the cuts they've made to the service.

"Our members will not back down in this fight and they need Steve Barclay to actually take them seriously."