The Labour leader and Rishi Sunak clashed during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday over the “lethal chaos” the NHS is under.
Sir Keir Starmer asked Sunak to admit that the NHS England is “in crisis” and then accused the Prime Minister of deflecting the blame to others over the delays patients are experiencing.
Sir Keir mentioned to MPs in the House of Commons of a 26-year-old woman who had cancer and then died whilst waiting for an ambulance in Plymouth.
The Commons fell silent as Sir Keir spoke of Stephanie from Plymouth, he said, “Her mum rang 999, desperate for help. She only lived a couple of miles from the hospital, but they couldn’t prioritise her.
“She was 26 when she died waiting for that ambulance.
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“A young woman whose life was ended far too soon. As a dad, I can’t even fathom that pain.
“So on behalf of Stephanie and her family, will he stop the excuses, stop shifting the blame, stop the political games and simply tell us when will he sort out these delays and get back to the 18-minute wait?”
The Prime Minister replied, “Of course Stephanie’s case is a tragedy. Of course people are working as hard as they can to make sure people get the care they need.
“But he talks about political games – he is a living example of playing political games when it comes to people’s healthcare.
“I’ve already mentioned what’s been going on in Wales. Is he confident in the Labour-run Wales NHS that nobody is suffering right now?
“Of course they are because the NHS everywhere is under pressure.
“What we should be doing is supporting those doctors and nurses to make the changes that we are doing to bring the care to those people.
“But I’ll ask him this: if he is so concerned about making sure that the Stephanies of the future get the care they need, why is he denying those families the guarantee of emergency life-saving care?”
Sir Keir said to Sunak, “So that’s his answer to Stephanie’s family? Deflect, blame others, never take responsibility.
“Just like last week, he won’t say when he’s going to deliver the basic minimum service levels people need.
“Over the 40 minutes or so that these sessions tend to last, 700 people will call an ambulance. Two will be reporting a heart attack. Four will be reporting a stroke.
“But instead of the rapid help they need, many will wait and wait and wait.
“So if he won’t answer any questions, will he at least apologise for the lethal chaos under his watch?”