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Jeremy Hunt: Year-on-year pressure on doctors 'not sustainable'

Doctors ‘knew there was going to be pressurised moments’ when they went into medicine, but the current situation is 'not sustainable', the health secretary has said.

The interview with ITV News comes as official figures released today show that January saw the worst A&E waiting times performance since monthly records began in 2010, with 77.1% of patients being seen within four hours – well below the 95% target.

Mr Hunt said: ‘I completely recognise the pressures that they have been going through and when they signed up to go into medicine they knew there was going to be pressurised moments. 

‘But I also recognise that it is not sustainable and not fair to say to them this is going to be repeated year in, year out.

‘I think we’re beyond the time when words from me will make a difference. What they need to see is action.’

Mr Hunt added that ‘significantly more’ money would need to be spent on the NHS to ensure services could cope with demand.

He said: ‘In terms of pressures on the system I think it probably is the worst ever because we’ve got very high levels of demand.’

He added: ‘We’ve got the flu outbreak which, although it’s not an epidemic, is the worst we’ve had for many years.’

However, the latest flu statistics show that GP consultation rates for flu have fallen in the past week from 52.1 per 100,000 in the week previous, to 43 per 100,000.

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s shadow health minister, said Mr Hunt's comments were 'startling' and show 'how entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis Jeremy Hunt is'.

He said: 'It follows the Prime Minister’s bizarre comment last month that cancelled operations were ‘part of the plan’ for the NHS and that ‘nothing is perfect’.

'The truth is that our hardworking NHS staff provide the best possible care in the face of unprecedented pressures and are all that stand between the current crisis and total collapse.

'Almost eight years of sustained underfunding of our health and care services have resulted in the worst winter crisis on record, with almost 140,000 patients stuck in the back of ambulances for over 30 minutes. Saying these are ‘pressured moments’ totally underestimates the scale of the problem.'

Readers' comments (26)

  • That will be millions more to the management Consultants who will proceed to tell us to do more.

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  • Hunt is a failed health minister and failed politician. He couldn’t manage a 20p coin machine outside a public toilet let alone the bankrupt NHS

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    They knew what they were signing up for.....
    Sounds like What Donald Trump said to the family of the dead soldier !!!

    I think new doctors actually do not know what they are signing up for
    Please let us know Mr Hunt
    Sure it will help the recruitment drive
    (NOT...)

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    ‘I think we’re beyond the time when words from me will make a difference. What they need to see is action.’

    Naaah Just enforce another contract

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  • Mr Hunt, Reflect, you are responsible for a lot of that pressure with your well meaning, short sighted
    hare brained schemes.

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  • Sometimes when he's not on a high he is capable of talking sense- unfortunately another puff and it all goes haywire:)

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