Rishi Sunak vowed to call out “bad leadership” in the health service as he set out plans to cut waiting lists and defended tax rises he introduced as the chancellor aimed to fund social care and reduce the NHS backlog.
Former chancellor, who is in her last days lagged behind Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the polls, he was challenged on Friday as NHS waiting lists were growing despite the introduction of National Insurance increases that defied a manifesto aimed at tackling the issue.
Speaking in an interview on Channel 4, Sunak argued that the Conservative Party had offered a series of manifesto promises on fiscal policy in 2019 that had to be adjusted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. He stressed the importance of providing adequate funding to the NHS, while reforming the service to ensure value for money.
As prime minister, he said he would aim to create more elective surgery centers and more community diagnostic centers to tackle the backlog of patients, adding, “we have to make sure we call out bad leadership in the NHS because there are great examples good leadership and they know how to do it and we should learn from them”.
Last autumnBoris Johnson introduced a health and social care levy aimed at almost increasing it 36 billion pounds during three years for the financing of social protection and the reduction of arrears.
The number of people waiting for NHS hospital treatment in England was 6.6 million in May. Earlier this year, Sajid Javidthe then health secretary, admitted that waiting lists would increase as the estimated 10 million people who avoided visiting the NHS during the pandemic gradually came in for treatment.
Sunak’s comments followed a tense week of televised debates and sparring, with the two candidates repeatedly clashing over economic policy.
Speaking in Norfolk earlier on Friday, Truss defended her plans to cut taxesarguing that “continuing on the same economic path that is currently predicted to lead us into recession” would be “risky”.
“The tax reduction that I propose is related to increasing the supply in the economy. And we know that inflation was caused by a supply shock,” she said.
During his interview dne The Andrew Neil ShowSunak argued that the foreign minister’s tax cuts would “add fuel to the fire” of inflation and rejected suggestions that his own policies would cause a recession.
“If you look at what’s happening around the world, it’s inflation that’s slowing down economies,” he said. “What we need to do is focus on long-term growth because we need it.” Sustainable growth, not a boom that will make them feel better for months.”
Sunak again dismissed suggestions that his promise to reduce VAT on domestic energy after rejecting politics as chancellor he showed a lack of consistency. “I’ve always said from the beginning that I would be willing to do more as we know more about what the electric bills will be in the fall,” he said.
During the interview, he was also challenged on the revelation from earlier in the year that his wife is Akshata Murty had the status of “non-domicile”.. “I’m the one running for office, not my wife,” he said. “We addressed the issue a few months ago and she resolved the situation.”
Truss’s campaign received a boost on Friday when Tom Tugendhatformer leadership candidate and chairman of the foreign affairs committee, has endorsed her in the race.
Both camps have stepped up their policy offerings in recent days. Sunak promised his government would “preserve our shared cultural, historical and philosophical heritage” by revising equality laws and tightening guidelines on sex and relationship education in schools.
Meanwhile, Truss pledged to “unlock home ownership for millions of hard-working renters” across the UK by allowing rent payments to be used as part of any assessment of a home buyer’s ability to afford mortgages.