“No tricks, no ambiguity” – Rishi Sunak
Downing Street has been accused of “quietly editing” one of Rishi Sunak’s five new promises to voters.
Kevin Schofield www.huffingtonpost.co.uk
The prime minister unveiled the pledges in a major speech setting out his plans for 2023.
They included a vow to halve inflation this year, grow the economy and cut hospital waiting lists.
Sunak said: “No tricks, no ambiguity – we’re either delivering for you or we’re not.”
The original version of the announcement published on the government website after Sunak made his speech on Wednesday says: “By March, NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly.”
The fourth bullet point claims waiting lists will fall “by March”.
However, visitors to the same page are now told that it was “updated” on Thursday and the March reference has been removed.
That pledge now says: “NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly.”
The page has since been edited and the March reference removed.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told HuffPost UK: “Just 48 hours after promising the British people a series of cast-iron promises, Sunak is already quietly editing the small print.
“The longer we give the Conservatives in power, the longer patients will wait.”
Answering questions from journalists after his speech, the PM said: “By spring of next year, we will have practically eliminated those waiting over a year, with the overall waiting list falling.”
A Downing Street source said the target for bringing waiting lists down is March 2024, and the government website had been edited to avoid any confusion.
HuffPost UK can also reveal that former health secretary Sajid Javid first made the March 2024 vow almost a year ago.
Speaking last February, he said: “Assuming half of the missing demand from the pandemic returns over the next three years, the NHS expect waiting lists to be reducing by March 2024.
“Addressing long waits is critical to the recovery of elective care and we will be actively offering longer waiting patients greater choice about their care to help bring these numbers down.”