I know the NHS is extremely busy – as it always is at this time of year – but staff are taking the necessary steps to make sure patients continue to get seen as quickly as possible.
In Scotalnd where the health service is controlled by the SNP similar pressures are being felt and similar action is being taken. In Wales where Labour run the NHS it is also a similar picture.
Let us be clear that the NHS has record levels of funding, with the Government supporting it over winter with an additional £437 million as well as £1 billion extra social care funding this year. And with planned action now rather than piecemeal actionn over the next few months.
So, the NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before. There are more beds available across the system. We have reduced the number of delayed discharges of elderly people who would otherwise have been in NHS beds rather than in social care (so called Bed Blocking). More than one thousand extra beds have been freed up in our NHS since February and we have extended the flu vaccination program.
We have been able to deliver more money for our NHS every year through adopting a balanced approach to the economy.
We are all well aware of the challenges the NHS is facing this winter in light of rising patient numbers, a flu epidemic, and the increasingly complex needs of an ageing population and we have planned for them. Our NHS was recently ranked as the best and safest healthcare system in the world and we want it to continue to deliver outstanding care.