Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Major A&E targets missed, claims Labour

Labour has accused the government of missing its targets for accident and emergency waiting times, and warned that the NHS is "unprepared" for winter.

The government says no more than 5% of patients should wait more than four hours in accident and emergency (A&E).

But shadow health secretary Andy Burnham claimed waiting times were going up, during health questions on 15 January 2013.

Health Minister Daniel Poulter accused Labour of trying to "distort" the figures, insisting that 96% of patients were being seen in A&Es "on an annual basis".

'Winter pressures'

Mr Burnham said: "For 105 of 133 of [the health secretary's] days in office, for major A&E's the government has missed it's own A&E target and last week for the first time it fell below 90%.

"Right now in A&E's up and down England there are ambulances stuck in queues outside, patients on trolleys in corridors and people waiting hours on end to be seen," he said.

He called on the government to ensure the NHS has "enough staff to get safely through the winter".

Responding, Health Minister Daniel Poulter, a practising doctor, accused Labour of trying to "distort figures based upon outcomes in a snapshot of just a few days or a week".

"This government is meeting targets in the NHS and patients are being treated in a timely manner, and a much more timely manner than under the previous government," he told MPs.

Moreover, the government has made allowances for "winter pressures" such as the flu season, he added.

But Mr Burnham accused Dr Poulter of "complacency" and said he needed to "get out on the ground".

Dr Poulter replied that he still worked in the NHS every week "unlike any of the members on the opposite front bench".

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