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Hunt claims NHS coping 'slightly better' despite crisis talk

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told ITV News he does not accept the NHS has experienced its worst winter for A&E patients during his tenure.

Mr Hunt, who assumed his role in 2012, said although some hospitals had experienced "very, very severe problems" the vast majority of hospitals were "coping slightly better than this time last year".

A record 140 A&E departments closed in England over December and a third of trusts said they need urgent action to cope with demand for care.

Mr Hunt disputed the closure statistics, saying: "That is not correct. No A&E departments were closed - we had diverts in place."

Having earlier dismissed a claim from the Red Cross that the NHS is facing a humanitarian crisis, Mr Hunt said the public had contributed to overcrowding in hospitals.

"NHS England think that up to 30% of people who use A&Es don't actually need the treatment that is being offered at that hospital," he said.

Ministers reportedly in talks over new A&E crisis funding

Reports of increased Accident and Emergency investment come as the Government denies the NHS is facing a 'humanitarian crisis'. Credit: PA

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is in "early discussions" over more cash for A&E departments to help them cope, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) has reported.

Ministers were meeting with senior medics about committing to "significant upfront funding", the health management journal said.

The potential investment was coupled with the long-term aim to save money on the NHS's £700 million locum doctor bill, the HSJ added.

The reported talks come as the Government denies a claim from the Red Cross that the NHS is facing a "humanitarian crisis".


Red Cross head stands by 'crisis' claim after May rejection

The British Red Cross said it is working in 20 A&Es. Credit: PA

The head of the British Red Cross has defended its description of a "humanitarian crisis" in the NHS after the Government rejected the claim.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said severe problems were limited to "one or two hospitals" - while Prime Minister Theresa May, though accepting the health service faces "huge pressures", said the Red Cross description was not justified.

Red Cross chief Mike Adamson disagreed, saying: "We don't say this lightly and we have a duty to say it."

He said the charity had recently experienced a "significant change" in demand for help and was working in 20 A&Es.

Mr Adamson referred to recent deaths at Worcestershire Royal Hospital as extreme examples, but warned patients were suffering "prolonged physical and mental distress" on a broad scale.

He said the charity had a duty to expose a "plethora" of system failures that posed a "threat" to the nation's health and the ability of the NHS to cope.

NHS 'buckling under strain' says health think tank CEO

The head of the King's Fund said a new settlement was urgently needed for health and social care. Credit: PA

The NHS is "buckling under the strain of trying to meet rising demand and still maintain standards", according to the head of an influential think tank.

Chris Ham, chief executive of think tank the King's Fund, made his comments in a letter to The Times as the Government denied a claim from the Red Cross that problems in the NHS represented a "humanitarian crisis".

With social care, the number of older people receiving publicly funded care has fallen by more than 400,000 since 2009/10, while the health system is buckling under the strain of trying to meet rising demand and still maintain standards. A new settlement for health and social care is urgently needed.

– Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund

Hunt: Severe NHS problems 'limited to one or two hospitals'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has denied the NHS is facing a humanitarian crisis, saying "very serious problems" had been limited to "one or two hospitals".

The crisis description from the Red Cross came as two patients died last week in the same A&E department after awaiting treatment on trolleys, with one waiting for 35 hours.

Asked about the deaths at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Mr Hunt told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "Every individual situation like that is of course a terrible tragedy."

He said reports of patients "waiting for too long on trollies" were down to "a handful" after "the most difficult time of the year" for the health service.

Mr Hunt said the Government was spending an extra £4 billion on health and committing "more doctors and nurses than ever before" with the NHS remaining its "top priority".

He confirmed he will update MPs on the situation in the NHS in Parliament later today, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had requested.


Department of Health responds to 'crisis' criticisms

Credit: PA

The Department of Health has hit back at criticism after the Red Cross revealed it has been stepping in to help with a "humanitarian crisis" as NHS England struggles to cope with winter pressures.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "Winter is always a very busy time for the NHS, and so to support staff working hard on the front line we have put in place comprehensive plans earlier than ever, supported by an extra £400 million of funding to help the service cope with additional demand."

A spokesperson for NHS England added: "For the past few years winter plans have included contracts with the Red Cross to provide services for councils and the local NHS across England."

NHS rejects 'humanitarian crisis' claim

The Red Cross said extra cash is needed to make the system sustainable. Credit: PA

The NHS is not suffering a "humanitarian crisis", NHS England's director of acute care has said.

Professor Keith Willett hit back at the Red Cross' warning of a "humanitarian crisis" as it stepped in to help the NHS in England cope with pressure on its service this winter.

Prof Willett said that "on the international scale of a humanitarian crisis, I do not think the NHS is at that point".

He continued: "Clearly, demand is at the highest level ever.

"But also our planning is probably more comprehensive than it has ever been.

"In many ways this is a level of pressure we have not seen before and the workload that the NHS is being asked to shoulder in terms of medical treatment and personal care is very high.

"There are several reasons for that. This is the winter and many more people have breathing and heart problems, but we know it is also very difficult at the moment and social care and community services are not able to react fast enough to free up beds to keep up the flow through hospitals."

He explained that the main problem is moving patients through the hospital.

"Many commentators have said if there is more money to be had then it should be directed at social care in the community first, and that will help the NHS more than anything else at the moment," he concluded.

Corbyn: May must tell Commons how she will fix NHS

Jeremy Corbyn has demanded that Theresa May tell the Commons on Monday how she plans to "fix" the NHS, after the Red Cross warned of a "humanitarian crisis"as it stepped in to help the NHS in England cope with pressure on its service this winter.

The Labour leader added he was "shocked" that the Red Cross had had to become involved, and said it was a "wake up call" for the Government to "properly fund the NHS and social care".

Mr Corbyn added he agreed with the Red Cross in calling the situation in some A&E departments a "humanitarian crisis", saying this was the case if patients are waiting on trolleys and some A&E departments say they can take no more patients.

The Islington North MP said the issues within A&E departments were "a crisis that is self-made by government underfunding of the NHS", and that Labour would increase NHS funding by reversing cuts in corportation tax.

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