Johnson to focus on NHS as he seeks to shake off ‘partygate’ scandal

Government to update on progress in dealing with the Covid backlog as PM fends off calls to resign over lockdown parties.

04 June 2022

Boris Johnson will seek to focus on efforts to tackle the NHS backlog built up during the pandemic as he looks to draw a line under the damaging row over lockdown parties in Downing Street.

The Department of Health and Social Care signalled ministers will be making series of announcements in the coming week on the progress that the £12 billion-a-year catch-up programme is making.

The Government is also expected to publish a review into health and care leadership by General Sir Gordon Messenger, a former vice-chief of the defence staff, aimed at ensuring the cash injection is spent efficiently.

Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left) during a hospital visit
Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a hospital visit (Christopher Furlong/PA)

However, with some Westminster observers predicting he could face a confidence vote by Tory MPs as early as this week, the Prime Minister may struggle to shift the news agenda.

A steady stream of Conservatives has being coming forward to call on Mr Johnson to quit since Sue Gray’s report into lockdown violations in No 10 and Whitehall was published at the end of last month.

Under party rules, he will face a confidence vote in a secret ballot if 54 Tory MPs submit a letter to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, calling for one.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “The pandemic put unparalleled pressure on our NHS, but we are making excellent progress towards our goal of tackling the Covid backlogs.

“With record numbers of doctors and nurses, and a system backed by unprecedented government funding, we will continue to make sure patients receive world-class care whenever they need it.

“This week we will update on how we are driving down waiting lists and delivering more scans, checks and tests than ever before as we support the NHS in its biggest ever catch-up programme.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there was “no quick fix”, but the Government was supporting the NHS to deliver the care people require through a combination of community diagnostic centres, new cancer screening, and expanded mental health provision.

“We are putting more money into health and social care than any government has done before, and we are making sure every penny of this funding is spent in the right way for patients,” he said.

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