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.’