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Hunt admits NHS winter crisis is ‘worst ever’
February 10, 2018
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LONDON: Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged the NHS winter crisis is the “worst ever” but said staff knew what to expect when they “signed up” to work in the health service.

Official figures released confirmed that A&E waiting time performance is at its worst level on record, and more than a thousand patients were left waiting for 12 hours or more in trolleys waiting for a bed.

Experts said patients are dying prematurely because corridors have become “the new emergency wards” this winter, despite unprecedented efforts and planning by staff and the cancellation of tens of thousands of operations.

The Health Secretary described this winter as the “worst ever” for the NHS, saying the flu outbreak had been “very, very tough” on frontline services, and adding: “In terms of pressures on the system, I think it probably is the worst ever because we’ve got very high levels of demand.”

But when asked in an interview with ITV News whether he would apologise to under-pressure NHS staff, he replied: “I completely recognise the pressures they have been going through and when they signed up to go into medicine they knew there were going to be pressurised moments.”

Hunt did go on to say sorry to patients, telling the programme: “I take responsibility for everything that happens in the NHS. I apologise to patients when we haven’t delivered the care that we should.”

Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “This startling admission shows how entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis Jeremy Hunt is.

“It follows the Prime Minister’s bizarre comment last month that cancelled operations were ‘part of the plan’ for the NHS and that ‘nothing is perfect.’

“The truth is that our hardworking NHS staff provide the best possible care in the face of unprecedented pressures and are all that stand between the current crisis and total collapse.”

He was speaking as figures released by NHS England showed just 85.3 per cent of patients were seen at A&E departments within the waiting time target of four hours in January.

NHS England said the “worst flu season in years” had put a strain on services, but the result was an improvement on December and January last year - the joint worst months since records began.

The Independent

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