‘Health Secretary should ignore medical opinion about A&E units’: Senior 1992 Committee member, Nick de Bois, increases pressure on Jeremy Hunt ahead of debate

 

Jeremy Hunt must abandon plans to downgrade hospital A&E units until pressure on the health service eases, a senior Conservative has warned.

Nick de Bois, secretary of the powerful Tory backbench 1992 Committee, said that until the NHS stopped “funnelling patients to A&E” the Health Secretary must “call a halt” to the programme of hospital reconfigurations.

His comments will increase pressure on Mr Hunt ahead of a debate on the A&E crisis in Parliament on Wednesday.

It comes as a new survey of more than 100 of the country’s most successful hospitals found that seven out of 10 believed the accident and emergency system is at a “tipping point”.

Most trusts, questioned by Foundation Trust Network, said increasing demand played a part in the pressures on A&E departments, with 42 per cent naming more seriously ill patients and 32 per cent blaming failures of primary and social care services for the problems. Most expect pressures in the system to be worse this winter than last.

Writing for The Spectator Nick de Bois, whose local hospital is under threat from being downgraded, said Mr Hunt should ignore medical  opinion that some hospitals should have their services merged or transferred into the community.

“Broadly speaking the medical profession is urging the government to press ahead with the re-configuration of acute services, with increased investment in and use of primary care outside of hospitals,” he said. “The public remain to be convinced and the obvious pressures on A&E units only serve to baffle patients as to why the government wants to downgrade their local units.”

He added that Mr Hunt should call a halt to the proposals. “We are in danger of putting the cart before the horse – reducing A&E provision before the alternatives are in place – and exacerbating the lack of trust rather than building it,” he said.

Another Conservative MP, Chris Skidmore, also claimed that part of the pressure on A&E was that migrants were more likely to go straight to hospital than visit their GP.

“The two biggest drivers for A&E are an ageing population and people turning up at A&E unnecessarily,” he said. “John Heyworth, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, has said that migrants routinely visit A&E instead of going to their GP and when you look at UK Border Agency studies of about 700 migrants, only half were ever registered with a GP.”

But this was dismissed by Clare Gerada chair of the Royal College of GPs. “You’re much more likely to have an immigrant caring for you than sitting up in front of the emergency department,” she said.

“I will accept there are certain migrants, especially those from Eastern Europe who don’t have a tradition of general practice, who will go to the emergency department rather than to general practice and we need to address that, but it’s certainly not responsible for the massive increase we’ve seen in recent months … certainly not responsible for the 1.7 per cent increase over the last decade.”

The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, said Labour would be putting forward its own “A&E rescue plan”.

“Jeremy Hunt has lost time and lost the argument,” he said. “His complacency is one of the greatest dangers the NHS faces. He needs to come …and produce a practical plan to relieve the pressure on A&E departments.

“In the absence of Government action, it is Labour that is showing the leadership the NHS desperately needs at this time. The Government has desperately tried to blame everybody else for a crisis of their own making. They are failing to get a grip on the real causes of the crisis…”

He said Labour would provide support by handing £1.2 billion of the NHS “under-spend” to support the elderly at home. They would also halt the closures of NHS Walk-In Centres and review all planned A&E closures and downgrades.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'