May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his new role and say how important, given this particular crisis, his previous experience as Minister of State for Health is? He took over that role from me, and he had ministerial responsibility for ambulances.
On Friday, I attended an ambulance summit with other Shropshire and Telford MPs, West Midlands ambulance service and NHS leaders in Shropshire, where we were told that one of the critical issues in ambulance response is the handover wait times at hospitals. Royal Shrewsbury Hospital was averaging two and a half hours for handover in the first two weeks of July, and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford was at three hours.
The problem is not so much conveyance by ambulance because it is hard to reach patients, but ambulatory walk-ins at our hospitals increasing the volumes of patients being seen in A&E. The problem with that increase in patient volume is patient flow and discharge at the far end. May I suggest that the quick win would be to increase resources for social care, particularly for domiciliary care workers who at present, particularly in rural areas, have to pay for their own transport to get from one patient to another? If we could improve those conditions, it would boost the ability to discharge patients.