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Accident and Emergency Attendances

Volume 576: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2014

16. What assessment he has made of trends in the number of attendances at type 1 accident and emergency departments since 2009-10. (902639)

We have debated the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about the A and E services in his area in the past. I want to reassure him that, despite the overall growth in attendances at A and E—we know that there is pressure on A and E—the changes that are recommended for his area have enormous clinical support across all the local CCGs and trusts.

I thank the Minister for her response. Will she explain why attendances at hospital A and E departments increased by 16,000 in the last three years of the Labour Government, but by 633,000 in the first three years of this Government?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have often debated in this House the many reasons for the increased pressure on A and E. However, the rate of growth in the first three years of this Government has been lower than the rate of growth in the last three years of the last Government. We are responding to the pressures. That is why the Secretary of State has addressed issues such as named GPs for older patients and the integration of social care. We acknowledge that there is pressure on A and E; it is the action that the Government are taking to respond to it that really counts.

Ministers again deny that England’s A and E departments are in crisis. The Secretary of State did so in response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) earlier. It just will not wash any more. In the past two weeks, 10,743 patients waited on trolleys for up to 12 hours because no hospital beds were available and 52 patients waited for even longer. Does the Minister really think that it is acceptable that patients are experiencing the worst fortnight in A and E this winter while she is complacently sitting on her hands?[Official Report, 27 February 2014, Vol. 576, c. 10MC.]

There is no complacency on the Government Benches, and attendances are half what they were under Labour. Week after week we have heard those on the Opposition Front Bench come to the House to talk up a crisis in our NHS, but the NHS has responded incredibly well throughout the winter. I pay huge tribute to the staff of the NHS for what they have done in responding to this. The Government are taking long-term action to reduce pressure on A and E; even the College of Emergency Medicine rebuts the Opposition line that there is a crisis in A and E this winter.