Jeremy Corbyn: Theresa May is 'in denial’ over NHS crisis

Posted On: 
11th January 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of being "in denial” over the mounting crisis in the National Health Service, as the Prime Minister insisted there had only been a "small number" of unacceptable patient care incidents.

Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs this lunchtime
Credit: 
BBC Parliament

The Labour leader piled the pressure on the Government to address funding shortfalls in the health service, amid growing reports of worsening conditions in hospitals across England.

It came during an animated Prime Minister's Questions in which Mrs May said the Red Cross' claims that the NHS was facing a "humanitarian crisis" were "irresponsible and overblown".

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In a withering attack, Mr Corbyn said: "Earlier this week the Prime Minister said she wanted to create a shared society. Well, we’ve certainly got that, more people sharing hospital corridors on trollies, more people sharing waiting areas at A&E departments, more people sharing in anxiety created by this Government.

"Our NHS is in crisis, but the Prime Minister is in denial."

Earlier, Mrs May had said: "I accept there have been a small number of incidents where unacceptable practices have taken place but what matters - we don't want those things to happen - is how you then deal with them and that's why it's so important the NHS does look into issues...and learns lessons from them."

The Labour leader urged Mrs May to cut planned cuts to corporation tax and direct money to “people in desperate need, in social care or in our hospitals”.

The Prime Minister responded: "He talks to me about corporation tax and restoring the cuts in corporation tax, the Labour party has already spent that money eight times, the last thing the NHS needs is a cheque from Labour that bounces."

‘IRRESPONSIBLE AND OVERBLOWN’

It emerged over the weekend that the Red Cross had been called in to offer support for struggling hospital trusts. 

The charity’s chief executive, Mike Adamson, said the situation was a “humanitarian crisis”.

That followed statistics released last week showing that one in three hospital trusts had to implement emergency measures in December to deal with the strains on their services.  

But the Prime Minister criticised the remarks in the Commons this lunchtime, after Mr Corbyn referred to them during one of his allotted questions, saying:

"We acknowledge that there are pressures on the National Health Services, there are always extra pressures on the NHS during the winter, but of course we have at the moment those added pressures of the ageing population and the growing, complex needs of the population. He also refers to the British Red Cross’ term of the ‘humanitarian crisis’.

“I have to stay to him, we've all seen humanitarian crises around the world and to use that description of a National Health Service, which last year saw 2.5m more people treated in A&E than six years ago, was irresponsible and overblown."

Mr Corbyn responded by asking Mrs May if she would not listen to the advice of professionals, “who will she listen to?”.

‘WORST’ CONDITIONS

Conditions in the NHS are the worst nurses have ever seen, the Royal College of Nursing said today.

The group also reported complaints of wards with double the number of patients they can hold.

In a separate move, 50 leading doctors have written a letter to the Prime Minister warning that lives are being put at risk.

Mrs May today argued the NHS is always under extra strain during winter, coupled with the added pressure of an ageing population and "the growing, complex needs of the population".

NI RISE

The chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Labour MP Frank Field, called for an immediate 1% increase in national insurance contributions to help plug the hole in the NHS finances.

“The funding of the NHS is currently built upon extremely shaky foundations. The impact of this inadequate funding on patient care and staff morale is becoming increasingly clear,” he said in a statement.

“I therefore believe that the Government should immediately begin weighing up options for an increase health and social care budgets, before taking steps to merge the two services into a combined, adequately funded National Health and Social Care Service.”

NHS CONVENTION

Mr Field one of 20 MPs from across parties to call for an NHS and social care convention, arguing the public is fed up with the health service being used as a “political football”.

In a letter, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative MPs highlighted the “widespread recognition that the NHS and the social care system are under unsustainable strain”.

They said a long-term solution which is “inclusive, open and urgent” was needed.

Among the signatories are Conservative former health minister Dan Poulter MP, Ms Wollaston, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Norman Lamb and Labour former shadow care minister Liz Kendall.

Responding to a question from Mr Lamb, Mrs May said she was "happy to meet with him and others" to discuss a convention.