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Health Care May ‘burying her head in the sand’ over scale of NHS crisis

While the PM claimed the service was better prepared for winter ‘than ever before,’ NHS England told hospitals to defer non-urgent operations until at least January 31

LABOUR accused Theresa May of “burying her head in the sand” over the NHS crisis today after she claimed that the service was better prepared for winter “than it had ever been before.”

Ms May told LBC radio that the NHS had benefited from additional funding, claiming that there were more beds available across the service as a result.

NHS England has told hospitals to defer non-urgent operations until at least January 31 due to huge winter pressures. It is believed that around 55,000 planned operations will be affected.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Ms May’s comments showed she was “out of touch.”

He said: “Next, she will be trying to lecture patients that ‘nothing has changed’ for patients.

“The reality is we see hospitals at full capacity, ambulances backed up, cancelled operations and patients waiting for hours on trolleys.

“Instead of burying her head in the sand, Theresa May needs to explain why she has allowed underfunding and cuts to health and social care to continue.”

Health union Unite national officer Sarah Carpenter warned that underfunding has placed the NHS in “intensive care” branding it “a stain on Theresa May's government.”

She accused Chancellor Philip Hammond of taking “political revenge” in the NHS budget after health boss Sir Simon Stevens spoke out about the scale of the financial crisis.

Ms May acknowledged in the radio interview that the situation for those who have had operations cancelled was “frustrating.” He, however, denied there was a crisis, claiming that “the NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before, we have put extra funding in.”

But even some members of her own party weren’t convinced as Tory MP Sarah Wollaston called on the government to “get a grip” on the NHS.

Ms Wollaston, who is also the chair of the health committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme there were “serious issues with capacity,” “far too many bed closures” and a lack of funding over a number of years.

And Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to apologise for the cancelled operations acknowledging there were “real pressures” in the NHS.

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