Tory MP Dr Dan Poulter defects from Conservative party to Labour over health service concerns

Dr Dan Poulter has said he is leaving the Tory party and joining Labour, ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports

The Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has revealed he is leaving the Conservative party and defecting to Labour.Dr Poulter has told the Observer newspaper he is resigning from the Tory party and crossing the floor, saying only Labour wanted to restore the NHS.

The MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is a former Conservative health minister.

He has accused the Conservatives of becoming “nationalist party of the right” and said it has abandoned ­compassion and no longer prioritises the health service.

HIs defection was welcomed by Labour leader Keir Starmer who said it was "fantastic" to welcome him to a changed Labour party.

The former Tory health minister has not only defected to Labour but urged Rishi Sunak to call an election soon. Credit: PA Images

Dr Poulter, who works part-time as an NHS doctor, also confirmed he is stepping down as an MP at the next general election.

He wrote in the paper: "As an MP and psychiatrist, I see the burden that a service near breaking point takes on patients, their families and healthcare colleagues."

He added: "The mental toll of a service stretched close to breaking point is not confined to patients and their families.

"It also weighs heavily on my NHS colleagues who are unable to deliver the right care in a system that simply no longer works for our patients."

Keir Starmer posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he was delighted Dr Poulter would be helping the Labour party get the "NHS back on its feet."

Dr Poulter said Rishi Sunak should call a general election “as soon as possible”.

He wrote: “I believe it is now incumbent on me as a medical practitioner passionately committed to our NHS to throw my weight behind the Labour Party in its determination to ensure we again have a health service of which we can be proud, and which best meets the needs of every patient.

“It is abundantly clear to me that the Labour Party alone has the will and the trust to restore and reform the NHS. That’s why we need a Labour government, and why I believe Keir Starmer must lead that government as our next prime minister.”

Dr Poulter's defection emerged on Saturday when shadow health secretary Wes Streeting broke the news on social media.

Mr Streeting wrote on X: "Proud to welcome Dr Dan Poulter MP to the @UKLabour Party. As a frontline clinician, he’s seen the damage that 14 years of Conservative government have done to our NHS.

"Delighted to have his support and look forward to working with him, especially on mental health reform."

In an interview with BBC presenter Laura Kuenssberg, former health minister Dr Poulter said: “I found it increasingly difficult to look my NHS colleagues in the eye, my patients in the eye and my constituents in the eye with good conscience, and I feel that the NHS deserves better than it has at the moment in terms of how it’s run and governed.”

He continued: “The party I was elected into valued public services, it valued, it had a compassionate view about supporting the more disadvantaged in society.

“I think the Conservative Party today is in a very different place – its focus is not on delivering or supporting high-quality public services.”

In response, a Tory Party spokesperson said: “For the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich this will be disappointing news. What Dan says is wrong as Sir Keir Starmer has no plan for our NHS.

“Under the Conservatives we are raising NHS funding to a record £165 billion a year, helping it recover from the effects of the pandemic and driving forward its first ever long-term workforce plan so that we train the doctors and nurses we need for the future in our country.

“Thanks to our plan, we have already virtually eliminated the longest waits and overall waiting lists have fallen by 200,000 in the last five months – and we will go further to make sure everyone gets the world-class care they need.

“This stands in stark contrast to the Welsh NHS – run into the ground by the Welsh Labour Government over the last 25 years which has waiting lists and waiting times way beyond what is being delivered in England.”

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