Hunt accuses Labour on NHS politics


Published: Tuesday 25th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Jeremy Hunt accused Labour of making “every single operational problem” political as the Opposition urged him to recognise the full scale of NHS problems.

The Health Secretary also claimed it was “politics before patients every time” under the previous Labour administration as the impending winter pressure on accident and emergency departments became the battleground in the Commons during health questions.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham warned that patients were being turned away from A&Es and some were on “black alert” before winter had begun.

He said this had a knock-on effect on ambulance services as he outlined a series of failings, including a 56-year-old stroke patient being taken to A&E by police on a makeshift stretcher made from window blinds from his home.

The patient later died, Mr Burnham said.

He told Mr Hunt: “Isn’t it clear that the situation in the NHS right now is far more serious than the Government has acknowledged and shouldn’t you now make an urgent statement to Parliament setting out what you are doing to reduce the risk of harm to patients this winter?”

But the Health Secretary replied: “There are huge pressures in the NHS and that is why we put a record £700 million into the NHS to help it get through this winter.

“Could I gently suggest to you that you shouldn’t try and politicise every single operational problem.

“Because when the NHS is all about politics, it’s patients who get forgotten and you should know because that’s what happened when you were health secretary, and whether it’s Medway of Colchester or Burton or George Eliot patients were forgotten, because for Labour it was politics before patients every time.”

Mr Burnham earlier pressed Mr Hunt to ensure NHS England published weekly winter reports, which he said were supposed to have started on November 14.

He asked Mr Hunt: “Why has this information not been published and will you today instruct NHS England to do so without delay?”

Mr Hunt replied: “That information is published at the decision of NHS England and they have said they will publish it in a fortnight’s time.

“Can I just say it was this Government that decided to publish this information on a weekly basis, something you never did when you were health secretary?”

Published: Tuesday 25th November 2014 by The News Editor

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