Rishi Sunak declines to say NHS is in ‘crisis’ but admits hospitals are ‘under enormous pressure’ – as PM refuses to reveal whether he uses private healthcare
- PM declines to say NHS is in ‘crisis’ but admits ‘enormous pressure’ on hospitals
- Rishi Sunak acknowledges ‘unacceptable delays’ at A&Es and for ambulances
- He repeatedly blames the strain on the health service on the Covid pandemic
- But he refuses to comment on reports he is personally registered with private GP
Rishi Sunak today declined to say whether the NHS is in ‘crisis’ although the Prime Minister acknowledged there was ‘enormous pressure’ on hospitals this winter.
After a meeting with health experts on NHS recovery plans in Downing Street, Mr Sunak admitted there were ‘unacceptable delays’ at A&Es and for ambulances.
He repeatedly blamed the strain on the health service on the Covid pandemic and conceded the problems would not be solved ‘overnight’.
But – as well as highlighting the Government’s extra billions of pounds of funding for the NHS – Mr Sunak insisted he had fresh ‘confidence and optimism’ that the chaos would ease after his talks with health leaders in No10 this weekend.
In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg after hosting the ‘NHS Recovery Forum’, Mr Sunak was pressed on whether the current state of the health service represented a ‘crisis’.
The PM insisted that ‘what matters more than words is actions’ as he would only state that the NHS was ‘under pressure’.
Mr Sunak also shied away from revealing his own healthcare arrangements, following previous reports that he is registered with a private GP practice.
He insisted whether or not he uses private healthcare was ‘not really relevant’ and a ‘distraction’ from the ‘real issue’ of providing high-quality services for the country.
After a meeting with health experts on NHS recovery plans in Downing Street, Rishi Sunak admitted there were ‘unacceptable delays’ at A&Es and for ambulances
In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the PM shied away from revealing his own healthcare arrangements following reports he is registered with a private GP practice
NHS data showed that ambulances had record delays when handing over patients to A&E departments in the week to January 1. More than a quarter (18,720) were forced to queue for more than 60 minutes before handing over their patients to A&E
Grandmother, 79, was strapped to a BIN LID and driven to A&E after breaking hip ‘because there was no ambulance available’
Pamela Rolfe, 79, broke her hip after falling in a park while walking her dog
A great-grandmother was taken to hospital on a bin lid after being told there were no ambulances available, her family have claimed.
Pamela Rolfe, 79, broke her hip after falling in a park while walking her dog in Johnstown, north Wales, last week. But when her family called 999, they were told she was not eligible for an ambulance.
Neighbours tore the lid from a grit bin, which was placed under the great-grandmother-of-two so she could be moved into a van and taken to hospital.
Ms Rolfe was given a bed eight hours after her fall and underwent surgery the following day.
Ms Rolfe fell around 11am on December 29. Passers-by put a duvet over her while she waited in the wet and windy weather.
NHS data has revealed that nearly half of ambulances faced delays of at least half an hour outside of hospitals, as pressure continues to soar on emergency care.
The PM and his wife, Akshata Murty, are estimated to have a joint net worth of £730million.
This is due, in large part, to Ms Murty’s wealth through her billionaire father’s Indian IT company.
Quizzed about his own healthcare arrangements, Mr Sunak said: ‘As a general policy I wouldn’t ever talk about me or my family’s healthcare situation.
‘But it’s not really relevant, what’s relevant is the difference I can make to the country.’
Yesterday, the PM hosted clinical leaders, health experts and ministers in Downing Street to discuss the pressures on A&Es, social care and the NHS treatment backlogs.
‘The NHS is undeniably under enormous pressure and I’ve spent today talking to NHS leaders, all day in fact,’ he said in the TV interview aired this morning.
‘Recovering from Covid is going to be tough and we’re seeing that play out on our TV screens every day and in communities up and down the country
‘But actually I came away from all my meetings today with a renewed sense of confidence and optimism that we can get to grips with this problem.’
Pressed further on whether he thought the NHS was ‘in crisis’, Mr Sunak added: ‘I think what matters more than words is action.
‘And here are the actions: three weeks after I became PM in the Autumn Statement, at a time of difficulty elsewhere, billions of extra pounds for the NHS and social care.
‘And then the next thing is: what difference is that going to make? And that’s the question people should be asking, that’s what I want to be held account for.
‘So yes, there are unacceptable delays right now happening in ambulances and A&Es, but if you look at it, we’ve got actually a relatively small number of trusts – around 10 per cent of trusts that account for over half of all the ambulance handover delays.’
Mr Sunak suggested some of the measures that could make a difference ‘right now’ to the NHS were the greater use of virtual wards, the faster discharge of patients from hospitals to care homes, and a reconfiguration of ‘best practice’ for ambulance triage to stop people coming to A&E if they can be treated at home.
The PM stressed it was ‘not right’ to ignore the impact of the Covid crisis on hospitals.
He added: ‘Has the NHS had pressures before? Of course it has. But Covid has undeniably had an enormous difference and it’s wrong to ignore that.
‘But what we are doing is actually putting more money in, making sure the initiatives work and starting to improve some of these wait times.’
Responding to the PM’s interview, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Mr Sunak had ‘shown himself to be completely out of touch with the NHS’.
‘He couldn’t even say whether he uses the NHS, let alone tell the country what he is going to do to stop the crisis that is currently costing so many lives,’ he added.
‘As PM he owes the country an apology for ignoring the warning signs that we were heading towards a crisis.
‘Years of Conservative Party chaos has taken its toll. Bills are spiralling, taxes are being hiked and our treasured public services are crumbling before our eyes.’
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