Rishi Sunak: NHS times are improving… fingers crossed

Rishi Sunak

The Prime Minister delivers his speech during a Q&A at Teesside University in Darlington yesterday (Image: Oli Scarff/Pool via Reuters)

Rishi Sunak has promised the fastest improvement in NHS wait times yet – ‘if we can deliver’.

The Prime Minister said he had his fingers crossed that ambulance response times and emergency wait times are now starting to fall after hitting an all-time high last month.

It came as ministers announced £1billion for 5,000 new hospital beds and 800 new ambulances, along with a plan to treat up to 50,000 patients a month in “virtual wards” in their own homes by next winter.

Speaking to medics in Darlington, Mr Sunak said last month, on average, heart attack and stroke patients shouldn’t have waited 90 minutes for an ambulance when the target is 18 minutes.

“Of course, my goodness, what happened in December wasn’t great,” he admitted.

“We will return to 30 minutes later this year and return to pre-pandemic levels thereafter. If we can pull this off, we will.

PM gives a speech

Mr Sunak said he had his fingers crossed that ambulance response times and emergency wait times are now starting to decrease (Image: Oli Scarff/Pool via Reuters)

The prime minister said all pharmacies would be able to issue prescriptions by 2026 and that the percentage of patients treated in the emergency room within four hours would rise from 65 per cent to 76 per cent by March 2024.

“Keep your fingers crossed when the January numbers come out you will see things are already improving,” he said.

But Health Secretary Helen Whately said she didn’t know if emergency room wait times would ever return to the old target of 95 per cent. “I clearly want the service to improve (over 76 per cent) but that alone is a challenging goal,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today. She acknowledged that patients need internet access to be treated in their homes.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay gave MPs details of the Emergency and Emergency Response Plan, promising more clinicians to call 111 and an increase in emergency responders, and more flexible work patterns.

But Labour’s Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said: ‘What kind of emergency care plan doesn’t even try to bring waiting times down to safe levels? They missed the targets, so move the goalposts.’

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/31/rishi-sunak-nhs-times-are-improving-fingers-crossed-18191702/ Rishi Sunak: NHS times are improving... fingers crossed

Justin Scaccy

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