1. ITV Report

Health Secretary criticises 'unacceptable' A and E wait

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says it was 'completely unacceptable' for patients to wait two and a half hours to be admitted to Accident and Emergency in Middlesbrough.

The delay took place on the 27th September at The James Cook University Hospital. Hospital managers have described it an as 'exceptionally busy' day.

The issue was raised by the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop during health questions in the House of Commons. He asked Mr Hunt what he would be doing to ensure the problem isn't repeated.

In response, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was 'extremely concerned' by what happened, describing the delay as 'completely unacceptable'. Mr Hunt said he would be following the issue closely.

Watch Tom Blenkinsop's exchange in the House of Commons with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt:

Mr Blenkinsop later said:

I will continue to monitor the situation at James Cook University Hospital and to hold the Government to account should standards slip and the health and safety of my constituents are put at risk."

– Tom Blenkinsop MP (Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, Labour)

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says pressure built up following an exceptionally busy period in A and E. This was coupled with the fact that fewer patients than usual could be discharged, owing to the seriousness of their illnesses. The Trust added:

We recognise that there were some delays with ambulance handovers and we are reviewing the activity to try and find out why it was so busy across the region and whether we can improve the way we deal with these pressures over the coming winter months.

We're also hoping to put in place a number of schemes to help ease winter pressures including opening a winter ward to increase capacity at The James Cook University Hospital and are working closely with GPs and the local primary care trust and clinical commissioning groups."

– South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust