Theresa May says sorry for NHS delays, but insists health service is doing 'a fantastic job'
Theresa May has apologised to NHS patients hit by delays and postponed operations, but insisted the health service is doing a "fantastic" job.
The Prime Minister reiterated her claim that hospitals are "better prepared than ever before" for the pressures of the winter months.
Her comments came after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier appeared to admit that there was a winter crisis in the service.
On a visit to a hospital in Surrey, Mrs May insisted the NHS was benefiting from extra central government funding and continuing to perform well.
"That’s why we put £437m extra into the NHS over this particular period and, as I say, record levels of funding are going into the NHS," she said.
"The NHS continues to do a fantastic job for people. Yes it has pressures over winter, yes, it has particularly pressures over the Christmas and New Year period. The staff are dedicated, we’ve put extra resources in. And let’s not forget, the NHs has been identified as the best and safest healthcare system in the world. That’s down to the fantastic work our staff do."
However she also acknowledged that patients are facing severe delays, with health bosses postponing all non-urgent operations until the end of this month - a decision for which Mr Hunt also apologised yesterday.
"I recognise that it’s difficult for people who are facing delays," she said.
"I recognise that it’s difficult if somebody is delayed on their admission to hospital or if somebody has their operation postponed and we will hope to ensure that those operations can be reinstated as soon as possible I know it’s difficult, I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s disappointing for people and I apologise."
Earlier Mr Hunt seemed to admit the claim made by Labour and other opposition parties that there was a seasonal "crisis" in the health service.
He tweeted a response to a Today programme interview with Tony Blair, asking the former prime minister: "Does he not remember his own regular NHS winter crises?"
Shadow health minister Justin Madders MP said: "After coming out of hiding to offer a half-hearted apology yesterday, Jeremy Hunt’s guilty conscience has now resulted in an inadvertent admission to the winter crisis. Will the next stage on this journey of self-discovery include a realisation that he has been Health Secretary for the past five years and might therefore bear some responsibility for the current crisis?"
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