Theresa May REFUSES to accept there’s an NHS ‘crisis’ as Jeremy Hunt apologises for 55,000 delayed operations

Theresa May has apologised to patients after NHS hospitals were told to postpone thousands of operations in January.

On Tuesday, the NHS National Emergency Pressures Panel took the drastic step of urging health trusts to delay non-urgent operations until at least the end of the month. Officials said up to 55,000 operations could be deferred.

Tory minister Jeremy Hunt broke cover today after criticism for not giving interviews, saying the drastic move was “absolutely not what I want” and “I apologise to everyone that has happened to.”

Mr Hunt admitted that long-term, “we are going to need to find substantially more resources”.

But asked if the situation was a crisis, the Prime Minister did not agree, instead claiming there are “obviously” pressures in cold weather and the NHS is “better prepared than ever before.”

Mrs May was questioned by a reporter on a visit to Wokingham: “If this is not a crisis in the NHS this winter, how would you classify it?”

She replied: “Can I say a huge thank you to NHS staff for their hard work, they work hard and do a fantastic job for us day in and day out all year round, but obviously there are extra pressures in winter.

“They’re doing a fantastic job and their dedication is ensuring that people are getting treatment that they need.”

She added: “The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before, we have put extra funding in.

“There are more beds available across the system, we’ve reduced the number of delayed discharges of elderly people who would otherwise have been in NHS beds rather than in social care.

“But I recognise for those people that have had their operations postponed this is disappointing, it’s frustrating.

“We will ensure that those operations are put back as soon as possible and once again I say that NHS staff are doing a fantastic job.”

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Yet again Theresa May reveals how entirely out of touch she is. She will next 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.”

It came after Mr Hunt, who was previously accused of “fleeing the scene” for failing to be interviewed this morning, apologised to patients.

The Health Secretary said: “This is the busiest week of the year for the NHS.

“What is different this year compared to last year is that [last year] we had a lot of operations cancelled at the last minute, a lot of people were called up the day before their operation and told, ‘I’m sorry, it can’t go ahead’.

“And we recognise that it is better, if you are unfortunately going to have to cancel or postpone some operations, to do it in a planned way, and that’s why this year this independent panel has decided to take this decision and that, I think, in the end, is better for people.

“Although if you are someone whose operation has been delayed I don’t belittle that for one moment and indeed I apologise to everyone who that has happened to.”

He thanked NHS staff for their “heroic” job by working “beyond the call of duty”.

Around 55,000 ops are delayed as A&E units struggle to cope with massive demand and turn away non-urgent cases.

In a drastic step to try to free up hospital staff and beds, NHS England said the deferral of non-urgent inpatient elective care – such as hip replacements – should be extended until January 31.

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