Health Secretary Steve Barclay confronted by woman about ambulance delays

'People have died, and all you’ve done is nothing'

The health secretary was confronted outside a hospital by a woman who angrily accused the government of doing "b****r all" to tackle record-high ambulance wait times.

Steve Barclay was speaking to broadcasters outside Moorfields Eye Hospital, central London, when a visibly upset member of the public interrupted him demanding to know why ministers have "done nothing".

She highlighted how “people have died” during waits for emergency services and said the Conservatives have had "long enough" to fix the issues at the heart of the NHS.

Recent data showed response times have got significantly worse, with ambulances taking an average of 51 minutes and 38 seconds to respond to emergency calls such as heart attacks and strokes in England in June.

In May, the figures were 39 minutes and 58 seconds - well above the target of 18 minutes.

During the health secretary's media interviews on Thursday, the woman approached Mr Barclay and was heard off camera asking him: “Are you going to do anything about the ambulances waiting, and the people dying out?”

The health secretary said after the heated exchange that reducing wait times was 'an absolute priority' for the government. Credit: PA

Mr Barclay replied: “Of course we are,” but the woman pressed: “Don’t you think 12 years is long enough?

“12 years – you’ve done b****r all about it. People have died, and all you’ve done is nothing.”

The exchange comes after a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showed that patients were facing “frequent and prolonged” waits for ambulances.

It also exposed several cases, such as that of an elderly patient who died after waiting 14 hours for assistance from South Central Ambulance Service.

ITV News spoke to the family of a 90-year-old woman who waited 40 hours for an ambulance after breaking her hip in a fall at home in Cornwall.

Following the heated interaction, Mr Barclay said that reducing ambulance waiting times is an “absolute priority” for the government and said a "range of measures" were being taken including "looking at how we address variation in performance" across different trusts.

He said an extra £150 million of funding would go to the ambulance service, a further £50 million to call centres, 111 and 999, and £30 million to St John Ambulance.

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“We’re also then looking at what happens with the ambulance handovers, so emergency departments, how we triage those, how we look at the allocation of this within the system," he added.

“Of course, that is all connected to delayed discharge and people being ready to leave hospital who are not doing so, and that’s about the integration of care between social care and hospitals.

“So there’s a range of issues within how we deliver on ambulances, but it’s an absolute priority both for the government and for NHS England.”