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IPPR responds to Sunak on NHS crisis: collapse of health service is damaging economy as well as people’s lives

Chris Thomas, head of IPPR's Commission on Health and Prosperity, responded to the Prime Minister's first major speech of 2023 

"It's welcome to see 'an NHS built around patients' and free at the point of need among the Prime Minister's new year promises. But there was nothing in his speech to suggest he's grasped the full gravity of the NHS's steady collapse.

"Put simply, the NHS is no longer a universal healthcare service for many in this country. If you are one of the many who can't get a GP appointment for weeks, can't get an ambulance in time, can't find a dentist or can't get admitted into A&E quickly enough, do you really have meaningful healthcare coverage for all?

"The human cost of NHS collapse is evident - with projections of 500 excess deaths a week caused by delays to emergency healthcare alone. But there’s also an economic cost, with record numbers now out of work because of long-term sickness. Proper investment in the nation’s health is needed to help solve that.

"Let's be clear - this is a crisis created by political decisions over more than a decade. Austerity, including a steady attrition of NHS staff pay and working conditions, has fatally undermined the NHS' capacity to meet the country’s health needs. A brilliant NHS is possible - we have witnessed it this millennium - but it is being failed by ministers.

“If the Prime Minister wants to deliver on the people's priorities – and bring spiralling waiting lists back under control - he will need to be far bolder in funding, staffing and modernising our NHS.”

Chris Thomas is available for interview - contact below


David Wastell, director of news and communications: 07921 403651


  1. IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity is a landmark initiative, exploring the case that a fairer country is a healthier country, and that a healthier country is a more prosperous country.
  2. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence:

PM speech on building a better future: 4 January 2023

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