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The last Labour Government put record investment into the NHS, which was voted against every step of the way by the Conservatives. That Labour Government delivered some of the best waiting times on record and some of the highest satisfaction ratings, and they increased access to GPs in constituencies such as Ashfield.
The A&E standard is important not only for patients waiting in an overcrowded A&E but because it tells us much about flow through a hospital. Last week we had the worst A&E performance data since records began, with just 76.1% of those attending type 1 A&E seen, discharged or admitted to a ward in four hours. Behind the statistics are stories of patients left waiting in pain and distress and of the elderly languishing on trolleys. In fact, we have had 618,000 trolley waits in the past year. Patients have been waiting without dignity, at risk of cross-infection. There is no road map at all in the long-term plan to restoring access standards. Of course, the A&E standard is being revised in the long-term plan, even though the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said:
“In our expert opinion scrapping the four-hour target will have a near catastrophic impact on patient safety in many Emergency Departments that are already struggling to deliver safe patient care in a wider system that is failing badly.”
I hope that when the review reports we can have a full debate in the House.