Andy McSmith's Diary: Crisis? What crisis? Jeremy Hunt resembles another politician heading for A&E

 

Some people think that the nation’s accident and emergency wards are in crisis, but they are wrong, according to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, which represents A&E doctors, said earlier this month: “It’s not chaos in emergency departments, but it is a crisis.”

The Commons Health Committee, under a Tory chairman, has warned that the pressures on A&E departments are “unsustainable”, and the Royal College of Nursing has described them as “dangerously overburdened”. It emerged last week that in the six months to the end of October, 87,186 NHS patients were waiting on trolleys for between four and 12 hours, an increase of nearly 40,000 on the previous period of 2011.

But there is no cause for concern, to judge by what Jeremy Hunt and his Liberal Democrat Deputy Norman Lamb said as they answered MPs’ questions in the Commons yesterday.

“Labour is always desperately in search of a crisis, even if there is none to be found,” Mr Lamb said. Mr Hunt told his Labour shadow, Andy Burnham: “We are hitting our A&E target, and we are hitting our ambulance standard. You are trying to talk up a crisis that is not happening.”

It takes you back to when James Callaghan flew back to a crisis-ridden country looking suntanned, and inspired the headline: “Crisis? What crisis?” The difference was that Callaghan did not actually say that. Mr Hunt has.

Shutting the stable door

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, a very busy man, has one fewer constituency engagement cluttering his diary.

The Citizens Advice Bureau in his Stratford constituency had asked him to chair the launch of a report they have compiled on the unfairness of making vulnerable families have pre-payment gas or electricity meters in their home.

Then it emerged that Mr Zahawi had claimed more than £4,800 worth of heating bills off the taxpayers to which he was not entitled, and has paid back. Faced with the prospect that their meeting could be taken over by hacks wanting to know how a rich man failed to notice that he has been heating his stables at taxpayers’ expense, the CAB have uninvited Mr Zahawi.

Drop the dead bank

For those who wonder whether people who run the BBC behind the scenes have a nose for news, Robert Peston, the business editor, told this story during a talk at City University: “There were times when I wondered whether they quite understood what was happening and what I was doing. One of my, ahem, favourite memories was of September 13 2007, sitting next to Huw Edwards on the Ten O’Clock News desk, shortly before going on air to flesh out the news I had broken earlier that evening, that Northern Rock had failed and was being bailed out by the Bank of England. It was literally two minutes before going live when a senior BBC editor came up to me and asked ‘are you sure this is a story?’.”

Nigella’s line on drug use

“It appears to be the case that the desire for intoxication is innate in humans… Just because something is innate doesn’t make it good, but whatever, prohibition can never be the answer.” So said Nigella Lawson, one of the celebrity supporters of Transform, an organisation campaigning for reform of drug laws. Its slogan is “Getting drugs under control”.

Wise men don’t use satnav

I have never trusted satnavs since the car that was supposed to be taking me from Doncaster station to Hatfield Colliery nearby took the motorway towards Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

So I feel deeply for the parents and children of Brampton, near Carlisle, who were looking forward to seeing three wise women riding through town on camels. After months of planning by the parish council, come the moment, there were no camels.

The driver delivering them from Warwickshire followed his satnav to Brampton, near Appleby, more than 30 miles away from their Brampton. The camels arrived in the end, but really that driver should have followed yonder star.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering