A medical consultant has told ITV News patients in A&Es are being left with "absolutely no dignity" because of cuts to social care.Read the full story ›
Jeremy Hunt has condemned drunk people who use A&E and called those who deprive others of care "selfish".
Everyone must treat the NHS in a "responsible way", the Health Secretary said, as he attacked those who behave irresponsibly.
Mr Hunt was responding after Tory MP Andrew Selous asked: "More than a third of A&E attendances at peak times are caused by drunkenness... what more can we do to hugely reduce that proportion by this time next year?"
Mr Hunt made the comments during a statement to the Commons on NHS performance amid concerns about the winter pressures faced by A&E departments.
- Video report by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship
Despite this winter seeing the busiest day in the NHS's history, the health service is not in crisis, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted.
December 27 was the busiest day to date and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has urged Mr Hunt to "get a grip".
Vulnerable people can be frightened by talk of the NHS being in crisis, Jeremy Hunt has warned.
The Health Secretary said there was a need to be "very careful" when describing the state of the health service, days after the Red Cross labeled it as being in a "humanitarian crisis."
Tory Sir Nicholas Soames told MPs in the House of Commons he thought the charity's claims were "grossly over the top".
In reply, Hunt said: "He speaks extremely wisely and I too think that we've got to be very careful about the language we use in these situations, because I think many vulnerable people can be frightened if you get the tone wrong.
"The vast majority of NHS services are performing extremely well under a great deal of pressure."
Jeremy Hunt is living in "la la land," according to Labour, who urged him to admit the NHS is in a state of "crisis."
The Red Cross claimed over the weekend that pressure faced by A&E departments across the country amounted to a "humanitarian crisis".
But Health Secretary Hunt, addressing an urgent question in the House of Commons, warned Labour against trying to "weaponise" problems in the health service for political gain.
MP Jon Ashworth said was "no doubt that this current crisis could have been averted".
"Hospital bosses, council leaders, patient groups, MPs from across the House urged the Chancellor to give the NHS and social care extra money in the autumn statement," he said.
"Those requests fell on deaf ears and we are now seeing the dismal consequences.
The NHS is "committed" to the four-hour waiting time in A&Es - but can only guarantee this to those requiring urgent medical care.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt maintained the four-hour wait was a promise to all those with urgent health needs, but not less minor ones.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Hunt said that since the waiting-time target was introduced in 2000 visits to A&Es were up by 9 million - but roughly 30% did not need to be there.
Hunt said: "If we are going to protect our four-hour standard, we need to be clear it's a promise to sort out all urgent health problems within four-hours, but not all health problems however minor.
"No country in the world has a standard for all health problems, however small. If we are to protect services for the most vulnerable, nor can we."
Hunt said the NHS would continue to explore how patients who did not need to be in A&E could be given "good, alternative options".
Visits to some A&E departments are up 30% on last year leaving an "unprecedented demand" on hospitals, Jeremy Hunt has revealed.
Addressing an urgent question in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said the NHS had been under "sustained pressure for a number of years."
He warned that a number of factors had lead to the health service facing "unprecedented demand" in recent months.
This included both the number of people over 80 having risen by over 340,000 and life expectancy rising by 12 months within six years.
Hunt also revealed that the Tuesday after Christmas had been the busiest day in the history of the NHS.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stopped short of saying he would be happy to currently send a member of his own family to any NHS hospital.
Asked if he could personally entrust the health service amid claims of a winter crisis, he said: "I would be happy to send a member of my family to the vast majority of NHS hospitals."
But when asked if he would send a loved one to a hospital with a high level alert, Mr Hunt replied: "Well the ones ... all hospitals have periods where the pressures get higher. What we've seen over this Christmas period is a few hospitals which have had very sustained and difficult problems particularly Worcestershire, but a number of others."
The health secretary earlier denied the NHS is facing a humanitarian crisis, saying "very serious problems" had been limited to "one or two hospitals".
Junior doctors have complained of "utter chaos" from the NHS frontline amid claims from the Red Cross that the health service is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Dr Salwa Malik said at the NHS trusts where she had worked over the winter period it had "become normal" to have patients queuing up and down corridors.
Dr Zeshan Querishi said ambulances at the hospital where he was working were taking up to two hours to unload their patients into departments.
"I can't help but think we're not giving the care that we want to," he said.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has said the "biggest financial squeeze" in NHS history had caused "staggering" failures in care.
We've had several hospitals warned they're not able to provide comprehensive care. This is just staggering for 21st century Britain.
And it's because the NHS is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history. Indeed by next year, money head-for-head will be cut in the NHS.
I really think the Government have got to get their priorities right and get a grip of this situation and do it urgently.