A&E (Major Incidents)
07 Jan 2015Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab):
The Secretary of State spoke about the algorithms used by 111 call handlers. Does he appreciate that a frightened mother with a sick child is not really interested in algorithms? What she wants to know is that her child can get the medical help that they need promptly. He has told the House that he has been having meetings on this winter crisis since March. Is he not a little bit embarrassed that we now have people queuing to see their GPs first thing in the morning, ambulances queuing outside hospitals, people being treated in tents outside hospitals, and old people staying in hospital longer than they need to because there is a lack of funding and no proper co-ordination between health and social care?
Mr Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health) (Con):
Of course I regret any individual incidents where people do not get the care they need promptly. The hon. Lady will know that the solutions to such problems are not always things that can be done overnight. If she looks at the record of joined-up care over the past few years, she will see that this is the first Government to encourage 150 local authority areas to sit down with their local NHS and jointly plan care for the most vulnerable people in the social care system. That is a very big step forward. We are also doing nearly 1 million more operations every year across the NHS. In accident and emergency, the number of people being seen within four hours has gone up by nearly three quarters of a million since the start of this Parliament. That is real progress, but of course there are long-term issues, and we will focus on those as well.