NHS Winter Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:42 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 1:42 pm, 10th January 2018

I want to make some progress before I give way again.

A very important point that we have not talked about much in this debate, although it is extremely relevant to people on the NHS frontline, is flu. This year, we have had a much bigger spike in the number of flu cases than at any time since the winter of 2009, but we also have in this country the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in Europe. This year, for the first time, it was made available to those who are eight years and under and to care home staff. As a result, a million more people have been vaccinated for flu this year than in the year before. Uptake among NHS staff is at 59.3%, which is its highest ever level.

I say that because while the shadow Secretary of State tries to make the case that no preparations were made, the reality is that the NHS could not have been working harder to prepare for this winter. The result of those preparations is that A&E performance, having declined for six years in a row, last year stabilised for the first time, according to the latest verified data. In the week after Christmas, compared with the year before, we had fewer A&E diverts and more calls to NHS 111. Many Members have talked about trolley waits. It is totally unacceptable for people to be left on a trolley for a long time, but November’s figures, which are the latest verified figures, showed that the number of trolley waits had fallen by three quarters compared with the previous November, so a huge amount has been happening.