BECKY MORTON FROM BBC
Rishi Sunak has asked people to hold him to account if NHS waiting lists in England do not fall in two years.
It is one of five pledges set out in the prime minister’s first major speech of 2023, with others including the economy and small boat crossings.
Mr Sunak is facing challenges this winter, including a wave of strike action, a cost-of-living crisis and huge pressure on the health services.
But the PM said he was “taking urgent action” and increasing NHS funding.
He said the government was also increasing bed capacity and the extra money would help ensure people who are ready to be discharged can be moved into social care or looked after in the community.
With the Conservatives trailing in the polls after last year’s political turmoil, Mr Sunak used his speech to set out the priorities for his premiership.
He also sought to reassure the public that he could deliver, ahead of a general election widely expected in 2024.
His speech set out five key pledges:
- Halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living
- Grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity across the country
- Ensure national debt is falling
- NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly
- Pass new laws to stop small boat crossings, making sure those who arrive illegally are detained and swiftly removed
He said people would be able to judge his government on whether it had delivered on these priorities, “no tricks… no ambiguity”.
But when pressed he provided little detail on how some the pledges would be achieved and admitted “many factors are out of my control”.