Jeremy Hunt was today accused by Piers Morgan of allowing the NHS to return to the “dark ages” during a tense live TV interview.
The health secretary is under fire after the The Red Cross warned of a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS this winter - a description rejected by NHS England
Theresa May has been challenged to announce immediate action to address the problem, with Labour calling for a £700 million emergency cash injection.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning, Hunt said the “first thing” he wanted to do was “thank NHS staff who are working incredibly hard”.
However Morgan jumped in to tell him: “They don’t want to hear your thanks, they want to know what you’re going to do about it. Because you’ve got people dying on trollies in British hospitals.”
Hunt said it was wrong to “generalise” about the problems that existed in some hospitals
“If you invite me on to your programme you have to let me answer the question,” he told Morgan during one tense exchange.
“Perhaps it would help if I told you what we were doing: We’re putting over £4bn into the NHS, which will be our top priority, and we need to have an honest discussion with the public.”
But Morgan insisted the NHS appeared to be “going back to the dark ages”. He asked the health secretary: “How can this be happening in modern Britain?”
Hunt is due to make a statement to the House of Commons on the health service later today.
A war of words has broken out between the British Red Cross, health officials and Tory MPs over the charity’s claim that there was a “humanitarian crisis” in England.
The charity’s chief executive, Mike Adamson, said extra cash was needed for health and social care to make the system sustainable.
“The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country,” he said.
“We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.”
But Keith Willett, director of acute care for NHS England, said that “on the international scale of a humanitarian crisis, I do not think the NHS is at that point”.
You’ve got people dying on trolliesPiers Morgan tackles Jeremy Hunt
An NHS England spokesman said: “For the past few years winter plans have included contracts with the Red Cross to provide services for councils and the local NHS across England.”
Today, May declared that “mental health problems are everyone’s problem” as she unveiled a raft of new measures to help children and adults who suffer from the illness.
Writing for The Huffington Post UK, the Prime Minister vowed a “step change” in the way Britain deals with the issue, with plans for prevention and treatment at an early age.