A LABOUR government would use spare capacity in the private sector to drive down NHS waiting lists, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has said.

He told GB News: “It seems mad to me that we’ve got spare capacity in the private sector and we’re not using it.

“You’ve got a situation today where middle and upper class people who can pay to go private are being seen faster, getting diagnosed more quickly and treated more quickly, which is certainly better for their quality of life but better for their outcomes.

“And then working class people are left behind because they’re priced out of this two-tier system.”

In a discussion during Breakfast with Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster, he continued: “What I’m proposing is the Labour government would use spare capacity in the private sector to bring down waiting lists faster, but no one will have to worry about the bill.

“That service will be provided to working class people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access that capacity but, as they would if they walked into an NHS hospital, they would not get hit by a bill.

“Now, in some ways, I’m not happy about this because I think the NHS should have the staff, the equipment, the technology it needs without relying on the private sector, but I’ve got to deal with the world as it is after 14 years of Conservative government, not the world as I would wish it to be.”

He added: “I’m making both a pragmatic argument that the capacity is there but also a principled argument, which is I’m not prepared to see working class people priced out in this terrible two-tier system the Tories have created.

“Of course, in the longer term Labour’s ambition is through workforce expansion, doubling the number of scanners and building on our proud record as a party of making sure that in future the NHS has the staff, the equipment and the technology it needs to treat patients, and to honour that founding principle of the NHS as a public service free at the point of use there for us when we need it.”