NHS Winter Crisis: 10th January 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that it was under a Labour Government that a walk-in centre in Broxtowe closed? However, I do not seek to blame a Labour Government, because it was a local decision made by local practitioners. Would he not at least accept, in a spirit of trying to build some sort of sensible debate about our NHS instead of always weaponising it, that this Government have put in an extra £437 million specifically for the winter period? Would he not at least give the Government credit for that planning, which we have never seen before?

Jonathan Ashworth
The right hon. Lady is a former Health Minister, so she will know that in her local hospital trust 771 patients have waited longer than four hours on trolleys, unable to get a bed. She talks about the winter money. We were calling for winter emergency money back at the general election, and we repeated those calls in September. That money did not come through until the November Budget, and hospital trusts were not told about their allocations until a few days before Christmas. That is no way to prepare for the winter. I suspect that when she was a Health Minister, she would have been saying that to the officials in her Department.

Anna Soubry
The point is that for the first time a Government have done everything they possibly could—[Hon. Members: “No.”] They have, because no Government can predict what the weather may be like, or the uptake of flu vaccinations. It is wrong to suggest that this is the fault of the Government in England when there has a problem across the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland and Labour-run Wales.

Jonathan Ashworth
The right hon. Lady will know that we have had eight years of sustained underfunding of our national health service because of decisions by this Government, of which she was a member until very recently.