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The BBC's Karen Allen
"Other hospitals say there are less major flu-related cases than the government suggests"
 real 28k

The BBC's John Sergeant reports
"Ministers insist the NHS is coping but there are problems"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 18:04 GMT
People are suffering, admits Blair

Tony Blair was attacked over the flu crisis


Tony Blair has admitted that the flu crisis means some patients are not getting the care they need from the NHS.

Flu nightmare
In the first Prime Minister's Questions of the New Year, he said that "people were suffering".

But he maintained that despite the health service being under pressure, it was coping with the many thousands of seriously-ill flu casualties.

However, Conservative leader William Hague urged Mr Blair to "wake up and recognise" that the NHS was not coping.


There are people suffering and not getting the care that they need in parts of the health service. I accept that.
Tony Blair
He said: "That's not the fault of hard-working doctors and nurses. It is the fault of this government and these ministers who did not prepare for the winter.

He added: "Now you are another Labour Prime Minister who says: 'Crisis, what crisis?'"


Hague: "It's the fault of this government"
Mr Blair accused Mr Hague of acting "opportunistically", and quoted British Medical Association chairman Dr Ian Bogle, who said that doctors and nurses were "coping well".

The Prime Minister added: "Yes, there are real capacity contraints. We need more doctors and nurses and intensive care beds.

"For precisely that reason we are putting extra investment in the health service to get that. That is investment that you have opposed!"

'Other countries under pressure'



It is the fault of this government and these ministers who did not prepare for the winter
William Hague
He said that other countries had been put under extreme pressure by the flu.

Mr Hague told the Commons that the World Health Organisation had named the UK as one of the the worst-prepared countries in Europe for flu.

Many hospitals have been forced to cancel all routine surgery because they do not have the intensive care beds free to cope.

One woman from Leeds has had a cancer operation cancelled four times.

Liberal leader Charles Kennedy said: "As you like to keep your promises, don't you have to admit that your promise to save the NHS, is, in the depths of the current crisis, looking very threadbare indeed?"

Mr Blair said that funding constraints meant that substantially increased sums for the NHS were not immediately possible.

He said: "But, meanwhile, there are people suffering and not getting the care that they need in parts of the health service. I accept that.

"But it has to be done stage by stage, over time, in a way consistent with the proper running of the economy."

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See also:
10 Jan 00 |  Health
Flu: An NHS nightmare
10 Jan 00 |  Health
Operations cancelled as flu bites
11 Jan 00 |  Health
Flu crisis blamed on ministers
11 Jan 00 |  Health
Flu spreads across Europe
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