SÃO PAULO, SP (FOLHAPRESS) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted this Wednesday (11) that he used a private health network in the United Kingdom in the past, but claimed to have registered with NHS (National Service) health. de Saúde), a public organization similar to the Brazilian SUS.
The announcement comes amid a wave of strikes in the United Kingdom that have been ongoing for seven months, although at some intervals – this Wednesday – ambulance crews, drivers and paramedics have been paralyzed.
Lagging behind inflation, which hit 11.1% in October last year, workers are asking for a wage overhaul that has hit a 41-year low. The shutdown brought the health system to the brink of collapse by late 2022.
The Guardian newspaper has already revealed that the prime minister is booked into a private clinic in London, which costs £250 (R$1,600) for consultations. Sunak, however, did not publicly comment on the matter until this Wednesday.
He confirmed the use of the private network while answering a question from Labor’s Kate Smith, an opposition MP, during the first session of the British Parliament this year. Describing the shortage of dentists in the public sector of the two English cities, Smith asked how long the Prime Minister had waited for his last appointment.
“I am registered with an NHS doctor. I have used the private health system in the past and I am grateful to the Friarage Hospital for the wonderful care they have given my family over the years. The truth is, I am proud to come from the NHS. Family. NHS”, said Sunak, who is a general practitioner. The system is the son of a doctor and an apothecary and the owner of personal wealth rather than members of the royal family.
In a Twitter post, the MP said Sunak dodged the question by referring to being registered with an NHS doctor. “Most of us do something when we’re born and we use it for the rest of our lives,” he said.
During the session, the Prime Minister said that this Wednesday’s strike will scare away patients who need urgent care. “The scary thing is that people now don’t know if they will get the treatment they need when they call 999,” Sunak told MPs, referring to the NHS emergency number.
During the stop on Wednesday, ambulance staff will only go to the most urgent cases. The first strike of this type took place in December, and other actions are planned until the end of the month.
On Monday (9), Sunak met with transport, health and education unions to try to find a way out, but failed to make concrete progress. On Tuesday (10), he introduced a bill to implement “minimum services” in essential sectors.
“Forcing workers to work against their will is a scandal,” said Mick Lynch, a spokesman for the rail union RMT. He says the British government is betting on the failure of negotiations with unions to prolong strikes and impoverish workers.
“To me, this is sabotage. They wanted these strikes,” he told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday. “It is the deliberate policy of the Government of this country to equalize the wages of the workers in all sectors and make them poorer.”
Health Minister Steve Barclay told MPs the ambulance strikes were deplorable and said he was concerned about the impact on patient safety despite agreements with ambulance staff to respond to more serious cases.
Labor leader Keir Starmer criticized the government during the session and accused it of failing to negotiate with workers. “In the 13 years of the last Labor government, there was not a single national NHS strike,” he said. “If the Prime Minister had negotiated with the nurses before Christmas, they wouldn’t have gone on strike. If he had negotiated with the first responders, they wouldn’t have gone on strike either. Why is he choosing to prolong the misery rather than end the strike?”
Sunak insisted he wanted a “constructive dialogue” with unions, but said wage deals could push up inflation. “No one is denying unions the freedom to strike,” he said of the new law released Tuesday, “but it’s also important to balance that with people’s right to access essential services.”
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