PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn claims Theresa May in denial on NHS

Media captionJeremy Corbyn asks who the prime minister will listen to over warnings about NHS services

Theresa May has defended the government’s handling of the NHS as Jeremy Corbyn accused her of being in “denial” about the pressures facing the health service.

The PM said the NHS was currently under “extra pressure” and that there had been “a small number” of “unacceptable” incidents.

But she said many more people were being seen on time in AE wards.

Mr Corbyn said she was ignoring the views of medical experts.

The two leaders clashed in Prime Minister’s Questions following a succession of warnings about the pressure on the health service in England.

The Royal College of Nursing said its members were reporting the worst conditions they had experienced.

In a separate move, 50 leading doctors have warned the prime minster in a letter that lives are being put at risk because of mounting pressures on the NHS, and charities working with elderly people said long-term solutions were needed.

Mr Corbyn said the PM “seems to be in some degree of denial”, saying she “won’t listen to professionals”.

He added that Mrs May’s “shared society” vision, outlined in a speech earlier this week, could mean “more people sharing hospital corridors on trolleys”.

Media captionTheresa May rejects a Red Cross warning about a humanitarian crisis in the English NHS

Mrs May said there was always greater pressure during the winter with the UK’s ageing population and “growing complex needs” creating extra strain.

But she said claims from the Red Cross of a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS were “irresponsible and overblown”, and said the only way the NHS could be funded was with a strong economy.

“The last thing the NHS needs is a cheque from Labour that bounces,” she added.

The PM also agreed to meet a cross-party group of MPs who are calling for politicians to put aside party differences and draw up an NHS “convention” to secure its long-term future.

Medical groups’ warnings

The latest calls for government action come a day after documents leaked to the BBC showed record numbers of patients are facing long waits in AEs in England.

Janet Davies, chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said she had heard from frontline nurses who wanted to give the best care they could to their patients but were told to discharge them before they were fit just to free up beds.

And the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), called for urgent investment to help “over-full hospitals with too few qualified staff”.

RCP president Prof Jane Dacre said: “Our members tell me it is the worst it has ever been in terms of patients coming in during a 24-hour period and numbers of patients coming in when there are no beds to put them in.”

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