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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Labour claim A&E attendances increasing 10 times faster under Tory-led Government

Jeremy Hunt challenged to come clean on the real causes of the A&E crisis - Failure to face up prevents solution, says Labour

The number of patients turning to A&E has risen 10 times faster under the current Government, House of Commons Library analysis reveals. Labour will highlight the figures in a Commons debate on Wednesday and show that decisions by David Cameron have resulted in today’s record pressure on England’s hospitals. An extra 600,000 patients each year visit A&E departments compared to the time of the last election four years ago. Meanwhile, A&E attendances increased by 60,000 over the four years to 2010, the figures from the House of Commons Library show.

The Health Secretary told MPs two weeks ago, during a Commons Urgent Question on A&E services, that his research blamed an ageing population and changing consumer expectations for the rise in attendances. Labour will say the stark rate of increase under the current Government cannot be explained so easily and will call on Jeremy Hunt to publish his analysis in full. Andy Burnham will present the figures to the Commons on Wednesday and lay the blame for the explosion in attendances at the Government’s door. He will use separate official statistics to show where the extra patients are arriving from:

  • an extra 290,000 patients turn to A&E when they can’t get a GP appointment, including the Health Secretary, and one in four NHS Walk-in Centres have closed;
  • at least an extra 98,000 patients over 90 arrive at A&E via blue light ambulance each year as 300,000 people have social care support taken away; and
  • NHS 111 is on course to recommend an A&E visit to 50 per cent more patients this year than last.

In the last month, 179,416 patients waited over four hours to be seen in England’s A&Es - more than double the 74,108 patients waiting that long in the same period last year. Andy Burnham will also call on the Government to stop the closure of NHS Walk-in Centres and improve access to GPs and social care this winter. He will also ask Ministers not to sign the NHS 111 contracts due for renewal until the flawed model, which replaced experienced nurses with call centre staff, is changed.

Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, is expected to say: "Rather than blaming patients, the time has come for Ministers to take responsibility for the crisis they have created in England’s A&E departments. It is their failure to face up to those real causes that prevents them finding a proper solution. The situation in A&Es has intensified in recent weeks but David Cameron’s complacency means he’s putting patients at risk. If he’s going to take the pressure off A&Es, he must adopt Labour’s five-point plan and give patients the support they need."