NHS Services (Access)

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health 4:15 pm, 15th October 2014

I will rephrase it, Madam Deputy Speaker, but we have had rulings from the Office for National Statistics in respect of these things. I shall say that the Prime Minister has misused statistics at that Dispatch Box and there is plentiful evidence that that is the case. Statistics have been misused, and I wish to give this example from today. Figures from the 2009-10 census—this was the final year of the previous Government —show that there were 32,426 GPs then. The most recent figures report 32,201 GPs, which is 226 fewer. So let us get some facts on the record.

The second area highlighted by the letter is accident and emergency, the classic barometer of the whole health and care system. The letter states:

“Major accident and emergency departments in England have failed to meet their waiting times targets for an entire year.”

An entire year! What have Ministers been doing? In fact, it is longer than a year, as the target has been missed for 63 weeks running. We must remember that we are talking about this Government’s own, lowered A and E target. Before the Secretary of State says that that is not the figure for the whole NHS because it excludes minor injury units and walk-in centres, I can tell the House that the NHS as a whole has missed the A and E waiting time target for five out of the past six weeks. Almost 95,000 people waited longer than four hours in A and E in September 2014, which compares with 70,000 in September 2013. So there has been a dramatic deterioration. A and E performance over the past six weeks has been worse than it was last winter. Loud alarm bells should be ringing in the Department about this coming winter, but instead of having a plan it seems that Ministers have given up on ever meeting their own target again. The annual winter A and E crisis is now a permanent spring, summer and autumn crisis, too.