Starmer’s waiting lists vow ‘can’t be staffing stop-gap’

The Labour leader would rely on doctors volunteering for extra shifts despite the lure of more lucrative private work.

Christina McAnea, Unison general secretary, said: “This is fine as a stop-gap measure, but this is all it must be.

READ MORE: Labour need to ‘be bolder’, warns Lord Peter Mandelson

“Health workers are already up against it and there are only so many hours in a day.

“But a voluntary scheme where staff are paid fairly, that avoids the use of expensive agencies, makes sense in the short term.

“The priority must be to retain existing staff and encourage more temporary workers to go on the books and become directly employed NHS employees.

“There must also be a properly funded recruitment campaign to fill thousands of vacancies. That’s how to tackle the huge backlog in the most efficient way.”

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Sir Keir’s plan is to allow the NHS to provide an extra two million operations, scans and appointments in the first year.

An extra £1.1billion will provide staff overtime to work evening and weekend shifts so more procedures can be done.

Professor Nicola Ranger, Royal College of Nursing Chief Nurse, said: “Nursing staff work so much overtime that is never paid – staying behind an hour or two after 12-hour shifts to keep patients safe – so a change in this culture is needed.”

Around 7.7 million people in England are waiting for NHS hospital treatment.

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