NHS Winter Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:08 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 1:08 pm, 10th January 2018

I will take that as my second telling off from you today, Mr Speaker. Given your guidance, I will try not to take any more interventions, but on the particular point raised by my hon. Friend Peter Kyle, the privatisation of patient transport services to Coperforma in his area of Sussex was an absolute disaster for patients and for the ambulance drivers, who I met—they went for eight weeks, as I recall, without pay. He has been campaigning on the issue, as has the GMB trade union, which I congratulate on the campaign it has run. We now learn that, having ended the contract, money is still going to that firm, which is an absolute scandal. I hope there can be a full inquiry into what has gone on, and I praise my hon. Friend for leading the campaign.

I have talked about the real impact of cancelled operations—for example, on someone waiting for a hip replacement who is forced to stay at home, unable to walk properly, and who, due to the pain, will no doubt at some point need to see a GP again in an emergency, which again adds to the pressures on the service. Perhaps someone in need of a cataract operation has had that operation cancelled and is now at risk of falls because they cannot see. Such a person could well end up in A&E, again needing a hospital bed. These are real people who rely on the NHS and whom the Government are letting down. The domino effect of not providing proper, timely care increases the crisis and pressures on the wider NHS.