DAVID Cameron has claimed that the NHS in England, for which his government is responsible, is better than the NHS in Scotland amid the worst accident and emergency crisis south of the Border in a decade.
In a fiery Prime Minister’s questions dominated by problems with A&E in England, Mr Cameron refused to accept Labour leader Ed Miliband’s description that it was a “crisis” and insisted his government was doing a better job than Labour and the SNP.
The latest figures show at least 14 NHS hospitals in England have declared a major incident, meaning they have been forced to cancel operations and draft in extra staff to support A&E while the target of seeing 95 per cent of patients in less than four hours has been missed.
In Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow, NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian have all admitted to postponing operations because A&Es have been swamped.
Defending his own record, Mr Cameron said: “Our changes [to the NHS] have cut bureaucracy and saved £4.9 billion. That is why there are 9,000 more doctors, 3,000 more nurses, there are six million more people getting in-patient appointments.”
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But he went on: “The NHS in England, which I am responsible for, is performing better than the NHS in Wales, the NHS in Scotland and the NHS in Northern Ireland.” A spokesman later said his comments referred to the A&E records in different parts of the UK.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s hospital A&E departments are performing ahead of all of the rest of the UK. At core A&E sites in September, performance against the four-hour treatment target was 92.7 per cent in Scotland, 92 per cent in England, 83.1 per cent in Wales, and 75.7 per cent in Northern Ireland. At the same time, Scotland outperforms all of the rest of the UK on a range of waiting times figures.”
Earlier, Mr Cameron clashed with Mr Miliband over comments reportedly made by the Labour leader that he wants to “weaponise” the NHS for use in General Election attacks.
Mr Cameron branded the remark “the most disgusting comment I have heard in politics”.
However, Mr Miliband said: “I’ll tell you what’s disgusting – it’s a Prime Minister who said people could put their trust in him on the NHS. You have betrayed that trust. You are in denial about the crisis in the NHS. This is a crisis on your watch as a result of your decisions.
“That is why people know if they want to get rid of the crisis in the NHS they have to get rid of this Prime Minister.”
Mr Cameron also turned his fire on Labour’s plans to use proceeds of a new mansion tax on homes worth £2 million to fund an extra 1,000 nurses in Scotland.
The attack came a day after a furious response from London Labour MPs and Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson to Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy’s plans to spend proceeds of the UK party’s proposed mansions tax on funding the extra nurses.
More than 80 per cent of the homes which would be affected are in London. In response to a question from Ealing Labour MP Virenda Sharma on funding for the NHS, the Prime Minister said: “The last I heard Labour’s plan was to tax people in London and spend the money in Scotland. Maybe he can explain that to his constituents in Ealing.”
A Downing Street spokesman later denied Mr Cameron was “sneering” at the principle of pooling and sharing resources across the UK.
Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran pointed out that during the independence referendum campaign Mr Cameron was defending pooling and sharing of resources.
She added: “It is a bit concerning that the Prime Minister does not seem to understand his own policy and he also does not understand the Barnett Formula of distributing money around the UK which all parties support.”
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