Mr Streeting made the comment during a visit to the University of Sunderland’s School of Medicine where he was joined by Shadow Education Secretary and MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Bridget Phillipson.
As well as speaking with the region’s prospective doctors, Mr Streeting was highlighting the scale of the backlog in patients waiting for treatment which he stressed was not “solely down to the pandemic”.
Mr Streeting said: “I’ve been blown away by what I’ve seen. What’s really impressed me is the number of students from the North East who’ve said they wish to pursue a career here in the region – it really is a case of growing your own.
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"The latest figures show there are 1,051 vacancies for doctors in the North East and filling this shortfall is vital in tackling the backlog.”
A statement provided by the Labour Party highlighted there were also 5,095 nursing vacancies in the region in December, and in January 44,577 patients were waiting for treatment at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust.
The statement also highlighted 18 per cent of patients on waiting lists have been “waiting for scans or treatment for more than 18 weeks” with 115 people “left waiting for more than a year”.Mr Streeting said: “There were already 4.5 million patients on waiting lists before the pandemic and this is a genuine national challenge.
“The Conservatives promised to ‘level up’ the country but patients in Sunderland and across the North East are waiting longer for care, often in pain and discomfort.
“After a decade of Tory mismanagement of the NHS, we went into the pandemic with record waiting lists, leaving us in the worst possible position when Covid struck.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson replied: “We’ve set out our plan to tackle the Covid backlog, backed by our record multi billion-pound investment over the next three years.
“We will deliver new surgical hubs and at least 100 community diagnostic centres to help patients get the surgery they need and earlier access to tests, delivering an extra nine million scans, checks and procedures by 2025.”