Journalist Paul Mason has urged the Government to let hospitals go into the red this year to halt the NHS winter crisis - calling the problems a “disgrace for a developed country”.
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time from Solihull, the former Newsnight Economics Editor, campaigner and Guardian columnist criticised senior Tory David Lidington for suggesting the fault lied with the “varied record of quality of service” hospitals provide.
“So it’s their fault? It’s hospitals fault people are dying on trolleys?,” he asked.
This weekend, the Red Cross called the issue a “humanitarian crisis” after the charity was called in to help emergency departments amid hospitals closing their doors and deaths reported on wards.
Mason said ministers “should be saying sorry to people whose relatives are dying on trolleys”, adding: “I don’t care if it’s a humanitarian crisis. It is a political crisis and it is a disgrace for a developed country.”
Mason argued the problems were long-term and would not be solved by doing any one thing, but suggested Theresa May could ease the current problems instantly:
“The fundamental problem is a lack of money. I don’t want to have a ping-pong of political points. I would just make a plea with you to get on the phone to Theresa May tonight, and get Theresa May and Phillip Hammond (Chancellor of the Exchequer) to simply ring two departments - the health department and local councils - and you only have to say one sentence: run a deficit.
“Please, spend what you need now, you will not be penalised for over-spending. That will solve the crisis now.”
Lidington, the Leader of the House of Commons, dismissed the Red Cross’s definition - suggesting a “humanitarian crisis is hospitals being bombed in Aleppo”.
Other guests on the BBC programme, hosted by David Dimbleby, were Labour MP Gisela Stuart, scientist Monica Grady and Brexiteer Arron Banks.