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Hunt denies trying to cover up rise in A&E waiting times

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to deny he is trying to cover up a rise in A&E waiting times, after a delay in publishing the weekly figures.

Labour's Andy Burnham accused the Government of imposing a 'media blackout' on figures at the most critical time of the year, but Hunt insisted the stoppage of the figures was to enable NHS staff to have time off during the holidays.

Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports.

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Labour: A&E's are struggling before winter begins

Labour's shadow health secretary tabled an urgent question to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on how Accident and Emergency units in England were coping with winter pressures.

Hunt said A&E attendances are up 5% on last year, and those that do turn up are sicker - meaning emergency admissions are up 6% from last year. Weekly figures on A&E waiting times will not be released for the next few weeks, which Andy Burnham said amounted to a 'news blackout' as current trends show waiting times for patients will only increase during recess - putting vulnerable patients at risk at a critical time.

He added that the figures were not being published to save NHS workers from having to compile them, when they could be having their Christmas holidays, and said the NHS was performing well under an enormous deal of pressure.

Life expectancy for UK men up by 6.6 years

Men in the UK can expect to live more than six years longer than they did in 1990, new research has revealed.

Life expectancy for British men jumped from 72.9 years to 79.1 years during that time, beating the global average increase of 5.8 years.

But UK women - while still living longer - saw a lower-than-average increase, from 78.4 to 82.8, well below the 6.6-year average increase.

Women in the UK are living an average of 4.4 years longer now than they were in 1990 Credit: PA

The report, by the Global Burden of Disease Study, found that improvements in diagnosing and treating diseases such as cancer and heart disease, alongside advances in care, were responsible for death rates dropping.

But researchers said the report also highlighted the need to concentrate on other areas such as drug disorders, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, all of which were "rising in importance."

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