Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

Corbyn says NHS is ‘not prepared’ for coronavirus pandemic

Jeremy Corbyn was appearing on Sky News (Picture: RidgeOnSunday)

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is not planning to ‘disappear’ after he steps down as Labour leader, while warning that the NHS is not ready to face the coronavirus crisis. 

The Labour leader did not rule out taking a shadow cabinet position when his successor is chosen, and called for more testing of NHS patients.

Mr Corbyn told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘I’m going to be very busy doing campaigning work on the economy, human rights and environmental issues – I am not disappearing from anywhere.’

Asked if he had his eye on a shadow cabinet post, Mr Corbyn replied: ‘Well, I have always spent my life trying to deal with issues of human rights and justice around the world, and that is something – whether I have a position or not is not important.

The Labour leader, seen at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, says he will not ‘disappear’ after stepping aside (Picture: PA)

‘What’s important is we use the honour of holding public office to hold executives to account, but also to hold the unaccountable to account for those who are fighting for their human rights around the world.’

Pressed on the role of shadow foreign secretary, Mr Corbyn joked: ‘Are you suggesting something?’

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On coronavirus, Mr Corbyn called for increased funding of public services.

He said: ‘No I don’t think (the NHS is prepared).’

Explaining that he had a conversation with a union leader about it, he continued: ‘More than a decade ago there was a discussion about threats and dangers to our society and he (the union leader) said the big one was actually an unknown virus sweeping this country. 

‘We are not prepared for it and this surely is a message that we have to properly fund our public services and make sure that everybody has access to good healthcare and reasonable state of living.’

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He also labelled the rate of testing in this country ‘far too low’, suggesting we cannot accurately know the number of cases of Covid-19 and that health staff and carers need protective equipment. 

Earlier this week, Mr Corbyn urged the Government to go further  to ensure the economic security of everyone affected by coronavirus.

Promising to work ‘constructively’ with the Government, he said the PM needed to extend plans to underwrite wages to cover the five million Brits who are self-employed.

He also called for protection for workers from losing their jobs, more support for renters, improved social security, and an increase in statutory sick pay.

Mr Corbyn’s replacement will take up the role on Sunday, April 4 – though a results event has been dramatically scaled back by Labour. 

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer is the heavy favourite to win, but faces competition from shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and backbencher Lisa Nandy for the role. 

Tom Watson’s replacement as deputy leader will be announced the same day.

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