Sir Keir Starmer will issue a dire warning that the NHS cannot be sustained in the absence of comprehensive changes that go beyond financial changes.
On Monday, the Labour leader is scheduled to give a speech in the east of England where he will discuss his plans to modernize the NHS and present performance goals for the healthcare system if his party wins the next election.
In his address, Sir Keir will claim that he owes the NHS “everything” and that the health system would be “on the line” in the upcoming general election.
He will assert that the NHS’s issues go beyond a lack of funding and that his party must “make it fit for the future.” Sir Keir will also caution that the NHS was established to prevent a “cruel lottery” in who lives and dies as a result of this winter’s ambulance crisis.
Wes Streeting, his shadow health minister, has previously issued a warning that the NHS must “reform or die” after laying out ideas to borrow capacity from the commercial sector as a temporary remedy.
Sir Keir is expected to say: “The NHS is not sustainable unless we make serious, deep, long-term changes.
“Some people will tell you this is purely a question of money – and money is part of it – but you can’t look at the problems now and tell me it’s just about money. That’s not serious.”
Sir Keir will tell members that the service their party founded after the Second World War cannot be put on a pedestal, sending a message that he is ready to imitate previous Labour election campaigns by making the NHS the focal point of his campaign to become Britain’s next prime minister.
“At the next election the NHS is on the line,” he will say, according to pre-briefed extracts of his speech.
“The Conservative Party that has brought it to its knees will put it in the ground.
“But mark my words, if all we do in the Labour Party is place the NHS on a pedestal and leave it there – that’s not good enough.
“We’ve got to fix the fundamentals, renew its purpose, make it fit for the future.”
He will highlight how the NHS has helped his family both professionally and personally while criticizing the current status of the service, notably with regard to ambulance delays.
“The NHS has played an enormous role in my life. My mum was a nurse, proud to be a nurse, but she was also severely ill for most of her life,” he is expected to say.
“That diagnosis didn’t reckon with mum’s determination and courage but it also didn’t reckon with the NHS.
“Lots of people say they owe the NHS everything. I’m definitely one of them. But mum’s story isn’t special.
“Behind every single door in this country, there is a family who will have their own version. The NHS belongs to everyone.”
The “cruel lottery of who lives and who dies” has returned for the first time since the NHS was founded, he will tell the audience, citing ambulance delays.
“Ambulances – for heart attack and stroke victims – that don’t come in time, just think about that for a second,” he is preparing to say.
“Ambulances that don’t come. Can you – any of you – imagine losing someone in that way? I can’t, and I mean that in every sense: I can’t imagine it.
“It shouldn’t be possible in our country, but it is. A cruel lottery of who lives and who dies that the NHS was founded to stop. And until now, until this point, for 75 years – it has.”
Other goals for Sir Keir’s hypothetical premiership include ensuring the G7’s highest sustained growth, turning Britain into a leader in sustainable energy, making streets safer, and removing barriers to opportunity.