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Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E rather than wait for a GP'

The health secretary admitted that he took his children to A&E at the weekend rather than wait for a GP appointment, in a parliamentary debate yesterday.

Speaking during a parliamentary questions session on health on Tuesday the secretary of state for health said patients were not able to assess the urgency of their needs, and claimed ‘making GPs available at weekends’ would help cut the numbers attending A&E.

The Department of Health has repeatedly issued advice that patients should contact NHS 111 out of hours, but Mr Hunt did not mention the service, nor GP out-of-hours providers when responding to a question on improving GP access over winter to alleviate pressures on A&E.

He told MPs: ‘I took my own children to an A and E department at the weekend precisely because I did not want to wait until later on to take them to see a GP.

‘We have to recognise that society is changing and people do not always know whether the care that they need is urgent or whether it is an emergency, and making GPs available at weekends will relieve a lot of pressure in A and E departments.’

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham tweeted to Mr Hunt: ‘If all “unwell” people went to A&E, #NHS would collapse. Surprised you continue to contradict official advice. Irresponsible.’

Readers' comments (50)

  • There ARE GPs available out of hours. The clue is in the name 'Out of Hours Service'.
    Why does the SOS for health not know and push this?

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  • Seriously? The health secretary is unaware that GPs are available at weekends (and nights, bank holidays, etc)? Can he be that dim?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Can't stop laughing looking at the headline. Agent H thought saying this could help the spinning for his party, such a loyal servant!

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  • This guy is a joke! He is the worst Health Minister, sorry Minister, Sorry Politician on record. Probably the most awful public figure that I can recall.

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  • What hope have we if this man confuses 'want' with 'need'? What message does this give the average consumer, sorry, patient?

    In its current state the NHS struggles to meet people's needs, let alone their wants.

    Perhaps those with the means to do so should pay their way rather than burden the NHS further. After all this facility is already established in secondary care.

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  • Completely irresponsible - and undermines his position as Health Secretary

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  • Why has the major mass media not reported this and questioned Mr Hunt's knowledge, understanding and need to set example for correct use of NHS? Stating "society needs" is like giving in to children crying by the toy shop to keep them happy despite being in debt (of trillion pounds?).

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  • Dr David Barrett

    He never fails to come out with utter rubbish of political opportunism or complete lack of understanding of the health service.

    Secretary of State for health attending A&E inappropriately is a waste of public funds.
    It costs the NHS £110 for every A&E attendance, whereas for £73 you can attend my practice for comprehensive care for a year, all you eat, unlimted data plan (sorry access to a GP free at the point of abuse).

    Has he really not heard about Out-of-hours GPs? Mr Hunt, my full time 12-13 hour days are enough Monday to Friday. If you "want" or force me to work weekends doing routine work at my practice I will clear off quicksmart to Australia (already thinking about it).

    If I had been the SHO / Registrar in A&E seeing him, the conversation would have gone something like this:

    Clearly, viral infection in a child.
    "Mr Hunt, Is this an ACCIDENT (said slowly) or AN EMERGENCY (said if in slower)?"
    A&E does NOT mean "ANYTHING & EVERTHING"

    Have you attended the OOH service or rang 111 before pitching up here, waiting 4 hours and doing a patient survey whilst you waited?

    If the Secretary of State for Overseas development decided to steal from the petty cash or misappropriate money from a Charity meant for Third World Countries, we might be calling for his resignation....

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  • I'm sorry but you are all underestimating the slyness and manipulation here - this has been done and leaked intentionally so that in the run up to the general election he can choke up ( much practised) while announcing that he has ' personal experience' of the heartache every parent feels when they can't access timely care for their 'possible severely ill' child at the drop of a hat.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • 1.25pm-you have pointed to the "elephant in the room" regarding Hunt. The problem is that PULSE magazine was owned by Tories (Google it) and I suspect is still very nervous about directly challenging Hunt so I expect you will be erased.

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