Drakeford says UK Labour GP commitment is undeliverable

The First Minister unknowingly condemned UK Labour Party policy today as he said getting more people to see a GP appointment in two days was impossible to guarantee, following questioning on the issue by the Leader of the Opposition.

The commitment was one made by Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary in Westminster, at the Labour conference in Liverpool, which Mark Drakeford attended, who said there was “no guarantee, whatsoever, that the promise will be delivered”.

It is not the first time this week where cracks appeared in Labour unity – the UK frontbench will not be attending the World Cup in Qatar over human rights concerns, but Drakeford and other ministers will be in attendance in defiance of Sir Keir Starmer’s edict.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said:

“Instead of denying he is responsible for the mess he has plunged the NHS into by failing to prepare the NHS for pandemic recovery, the First Minister should ask Keir Starmer and his team to stop embarrassing him by promising what he cannot deliver himself.

“Once again, the First Minister drew attention to how the longest waits for NHS treatment in Wales have fallen over the last five our months – neglecting to mention this was from 70,000 to 60,000 and that two-year waits have been virtually eliminated in England and Scotland.

“He gave no light at the end of the tunnel for those people who are having to turn to their savings and to foreign clinics to get the treatment they need.

“Labour’s cost-of-pain crisis is not going anywhere and, sadly, patients and staff who suffer the consequences are paying the price. This is the cost of Labour.”

Davies also raised the case of Richard Cooper, a constituent who spent 37 years in the RAF, who’s hips deteriorated to a point where he was virtually immobile, faced with a five- to six-year wait to have his them replaced.

He had to use his savings, built up from his time serving his country, and turn to the private sector and head to Poland for treatment. When asked for plans to deal with the longest waits in NHS Wales, Drakeford failed to provide timelines on eliminating those waits.

The number of people waiting over two years is now 59,350 – nearly three times the figure a year ago – despite such waits having been virtually eliminated in England and Scotland.

The Labour Government have a target to eliminate the number of people waiting longer than two years in most specialties by March 2023, but the First Minister declined to mention this, maybe because current projections show this will not happen until mid-2024.

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