I, too, start by offering, on behalf of the whole House, a massive “thank you” to all staff across the health and care system who went beyond the call of duty and gave up their Christmas and new year to keep patients safe. Their dedication makes the NHS the best healthcare system in the world. They visibly demonstrated their values, constantly putting the needs of patients before their own.
Attempts to politicise pressures on the NHS are a serious mistake. The last time the NHS had a difficult flu winter was 2009—Jonathan Ashworth might know that, because he was working in Downing Street at the time. In 2009, the shadow Health Secretary was Andrew Lansley. He refused to attack the Government, because it was an operational issue—in fact, the then Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, thanked him for his “measured tone”, which meant that
“together we can give a reassuring message to the public”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 493, c. 1056.]
Sadly, I cannot say that to the shadow Health Secretary today.
The hon. Gentleman, who has used some extraordinary language today, says that the NHS is on its knees. Let us look at the facts: since 2010, we have 14,000 more doctors, 12,000 more nurses on our wards and 5,000 more operations every single day; and in A&Es, which he talked about a lot, 1,800 more people are seen and treated within four hours every single day.