Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Challenging Nick Clegg at DPMQs – 04/06/13

Today at Deputy Prime Ministers Questions I challenged Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg on report findings by the Kings Fund, that the number of people waiting more than 4 hours in A&E is higher than at any time for nine years.

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): Will the Deputy Prime Minister confirm that under his Government, patients in accident and emergency are having to wait longer than at any time for nine years?

The Deputy Prime Minister: Of course, I too saw the statistics from the King’s Fund and others this morning about accident and emergency waits. They are serious and we need to tackle them. More than 1 million more people are going to accident and emergency than was the case previously. That is for some long-term reasons, as the report acknowledges: an ageing society, the lack of proper co-ordination between social and health authorities and, of course, the disastrous consequences for out-of-hours care of the GP contract, which was so badly bungled by the Labour party. I am pleased to be able to tell the right hon. and learned Lady that the very latest statistic—this is a tribute to everyone working in accident and emergency in our NHS—shows that this is now the fifth consecutive week in which we have met the target of 95% of A and E patients being seen in less than four hours.

Ms Harman: I think that answer is complacent. The truth is that there is a crisis in the national health service in the accident and emergency departments. The coalition has been in government for three years and this is happening on the Government’s watch and because of what they are doing: wasting billions of pounds on top-down reorganisation, axing thousands of nursing jobs and cutting social care. Is that not exactly what happened before to the NHS under the Tories? It is happening again, only this time the Lib Dems are helping the Tories to wreck the NHS.

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