- Corbyn attacks Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt for neglecting the NHS during the winter.
- The prime minister “wanted to sack” Hunt “but was too weak to do,” Corbyn said in PMQs.
- 17,000 people waited in the back of ambulances for over an hour over Christmas, official figures show.
LONDON – Jeremy Corbyn accused the UK government of turning the NHS into a “sinking ship” in a heated exchange over the health service in the first Prime Minister’s Questions of 2018.
The Labour leader said that Prime Minister Theresa May was aware of a crisis in the NHS “because she wanted to sack her Health Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) – but was too weak to do it.”
May was set to remove Hunt as Health Secretary in the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week but agreed to let him retain his position after he protested her decision, according to multiple reports.
Official figures show that over 17,000 people waited in the back of an ambulance for more than hour as they waited for treatment over Christmas, while 91.7% of hospital beds in Britain were full.
May insisted that preparation for winter in the NHS had been “more extensive and meticulous than ever before.”
However, Corbyn pressed the prime minister on the pressures being faced by hospital staff across the country.
“She said the NHS was better prepared for winter than ever before. What words of comfort does the PM have for the 17,000 people waiting in the back of ambulances in the last weekend of December?
“If the NHS is so well-resourced and so well-prepared, why was a decision taken last week to cancel the operations of 55,000 patients during the month of January?”
He added: “The health secretary said he is not going to abandon ship. Isn’t that an admission that the ship is indeed sinking?”
Watch Corbyn and May clash over the NHS:
“We see more doctors in our NHS, more nurses in our NHS, more operations taking place in our NHS, more people being treated in accident and emergency in our NHS” @theresa_may to @jeremycorbyn after he says “creeping privatisation is dragging our NHS down” #pmqs pic.twitter.com/s01EcqqmGa
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) January 10, 2018
The prime minister accused Labour of having no “answers” to the NHS and claimed that the Labour government in Wales had slashed funding and missed targets.
Corbyn responded by pointing out that the Welsh budget is decided by the UK government.
In an awkward moment, May accused Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner of avoiding sitting on the front bench following her description of Labour’s fiscal policy as “boom or bust” in a recent interview.
Labour leader Corbyn informed May that Rayner was forced to skip PMQs in order to receive medical treatment, for which the prime minister quickly apologised.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 10, 2018
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