Wes Streeting ‘delighted’ with health role just months after NHS saved his life

The Ilford North MP had a kidney removed earlier this year after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Wes Streeting
Wes Streeting

Wes Streeting has been appointed as shadow health secretary just four months after he returned to Labour frontbench duties after being declared cancer-free by doctors.

He said he was “delighted” with his new role, adding “this year the NHS saved my life”.

In a tweet shortly after the announcement, he said: “Delighted to have been appointed as shadow health and social care secretary.

“This year the NHS saved my life and staff across health and social care are getting us through the worst pandemic in living memory.

“Labour created the NHS.

“We’ll make it fit for the future.”

He also paid tribute to his predecessor Jonathan Ashworth, saying: “We couldn’t have asked more of you, Jon.

“You’ve left huge shoes to fill as the longest shadow health secretary.”

Labour Party Conference
Jon Ashworth had served as shadow health secretary since 2016 (PA)

Mr Ashworth, who has become shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “I’m hugely confident Wes Streeting will be a superb and worthy successor and be as proud as I was to be Labour’s health spokesperson.”

Mr Streeting, the MP for Ilford North, announced in May that he would be stepping back from politics while he underwent treatment for kidney cancer.

The announcement came less than a week after he was promoted to the shadow cabinet by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as shadow secretary of state for child poverty.

But the 38-year-old confirmed in July that an operation to remove his kidney had been successful and he was feeling well enough to return to work.

In a video posted on social media, Mr Streeting thanked NHS staff at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, for supporting him through his treatment, along with Ilford’s King George and Queen’s Hospitals for detecting the “cancer really early”.

Mr Streeting, a former president of the National Union of Students, is regarded as one of Labour’s rising stars.

He was an outspoken critic of former leader Jeremy Corbyn over his failure to tackle antisemitism in the party and was one of the shadow ministers who toured the broadcast studios to defend Sir Keir following Labour’s poor showing during the “Super Thursday” local elections in May.

Mr Streeting grew up on a council estate in Tower Hamlets and was the first person in his family to go to university.

He read history at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

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