Warnings of a humanitarian crisis at English hospitals by the Red Cross were ‘grossly over the top’ according to the MP for Mid Sussex.
The charity helps some hospitals with patient transport and provides care for patients who have returned home.
Accident and emergency departments have been under intense pressure with patients in many areas being asked to stay away from hospitals unless they have life-threatening conditions.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, MP Sir Nicholas Soames described the claims by the Red Cross as ‘grossly over the top’, despite being a ‘frequent user and admirer’ of the charity.
He said: “I join the Secretary of State in his tribute to the wonderful work of the frontline staff of the NHS at a very difficult time.
“Does he agree that the pressures are not going to go away, and that there must be a continuing drive for reform and to do these things better?
“What exactly are the impediments in the NHS to the sharing of best practice, and what steps is he taking to create a more experienced and better trained leadership who are more prepared for the exceptional medical and management challenges that the NHS now faces?”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt responded: “My right honourable friend speaks extremely wisely.
“I, too, think that we have to be very careful about the language we use in these situations because many vulnerable people can be frightened if we get the tone wrong.
“The vast majority of NHS services are performing extremely well under a great deal of pressure.
“His point about leadership is extremely important and one to which I have given a lot of thought.
“At the heart of the problem is that we do not have enough hospitals being run by doctors and nurses.
“Around 56 per cent of our managers have a clinical background, compared with 76 per cent in Canada and 96 per cent in Sweden. To put it bluntly, doctors like to be given instructions by other doctors.
“Exceptional people from a non-clinical background can do it, but it is hard because doctors have many years of training and are highly experienced people. I have put in place measures to try to make it easier for more clinicians to become our managers of the future.”
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