British PM Theresa May faces pressure over healthcare crisis

NewsPoliticsCorbyn Does the Prime Minister really believe that the NHS is better prepared than ever?Jack Peat

Corbyn also mocked May over reports that she had meant to sack Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt but was "too weak" to do so in a cabinet reshuffle earlier this week.

Attacking the government over the ongoing winter NHS crisis that has seen tens of thousands of operations and appointments cancelled, he said: "It's simply not good enough".

NHS England last week recommended all hospitals defer non-urgent appointments and operations until the end of the month, except for cancer operations and "time-critical procedures".

But Labour leader Mr Corbyn said Mrs May had recognised there is a "crisis" in the NHS because she initially wanted to sack Mr Hunt, who ultimately survived the reshuffle and saw social care added to his portfolio.

Only Labour's post-war health minister Aneurin Bevan (1,994 days) and 1980s Tory minister Normal Fowler (2,099) have occupied the post for longer in the NHS-era.

The health minister apologised to people who have had their operations postponed, but made the comment after Labour's Tracy Brabin said one of her constituents had taken photographs of people "sleeping on the floor" in a hospital.

"We've got to make sure that we do whatever we can to make sure that the responsibility, however they dress it up, is maintained from our sector's point of view".

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Mr Corbyn raised the case of an 82-year-old woman who spent 13 hours on a trolley in a corridor, noting she arrived at hospital three hours after first dialling 999.

Mrs May told MPs she would look into the case and went on to say: "Week in and week out, in the run-up to Christmas and now today, what (Mr Corbyn) is doing is giving the impression of a National Health Service that is failing everybody that goes to use the NHS".

He added: "Yesterday on the BBC's Marr show, Theresa May said of the NHS crisis that 'nothing is ideal.' That is breathtaking complacency and entirely unacceptable".

"Our National Health Service is something we should be proud of and that's why it's a first-class National Health Service".

Mr Hunt's reign as Health Secretary has been far from plain sailing, having frequently clashed with health worker unions over his plans for a "seven-day NHS" - culminating in multiple strikes called by the British Medical Association in 2016 following failed negotiations over a new junior doctors contract.

And she told MPs: "This Government is putting more money into the NHS. Isn't that an admission that, under his captaincy, the ship is indeed sinking?"

The hospital has denied any change in policy.