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Former health secretary admits his own failings contributed to long NHS emergency waiting hours

JEREMY HUNT admitted during an interview today that his own failings as health secretary contributed to people waiting long hours for an ambulance or in emergency departments.

The former Cabinet minister said he sat at the top of a “rogue system” between 2012 and 2018, criticising a “blame culture” in the NHS — as he himself blamed the struggling service.

He told BBC’s Sunday Morning that in his new book, he “tried to be honest about the things I succeeded in doing and the things I wasn’t successful in.”

Referring to reports of heart attack or stroke victims having to wait an hour for an ambulance, Mr Hunt said: “One of the root causes of that was something I didn’t manage to do, which was to get a long-term plan or long-term funding for the social care system.

“In a way, I did succeed for the NHS, but obviously if you can’t discharge people from hospitals into the care system, then hospitals don’t have the capacity to deal with people who come in an emergency, and that remains an unsolved problem.”

Mr Hunt led the health service during Exercise Cygnus, a 2016 pandemic simulation that predicted many of the problems that would hit during the Covid pandemic that began in 2020 — including chronic PPE shortages — but whose findings were not acted on.

Mr Hunt, current chair of the health and social care committee, denied that the NHS is on the brink of collapse, but said the situation is “very, very serious” with doctors and nurses “run ragged by the intensity of work.”

In April, a record 24,138 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England from when a decision was made to admit them.

Health unions and campaign groups have been urging the government to inject cash into the service, which has been underfunded by Conservative governments and sold off in bits to private providers, to help ease the backlog of patients waiting for treatments and emergency care.

Mr Hunt also refused to say whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson was an honest man when asked directly by presenter Sophie Raworth.

He instead said that “talking about personalities is not a helpful thing to do” when faced with a serious international situation such as the Ukraine war.

The former Tory leadership contender also refused to rule himself out of a future contest.


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