There's only one person responsible for the A&E crisis - David Cameron

The problem for the Tories is that the truth isn’t on their side.

The Tories would have us believe that the A&E crisis has nothing to do with them. Nothing to do with the £3bn they wasted on a pointless re-organisation, the loss of 6,000 nurses from the NHS since David Cameron became Prime Minister or the dismantling of alternatives to A&E like walk-in centres and social care support for the elderly at home.

Instead they claim that changes made to 2004 GP contract are the cause of the crisis in A&E.

The problem for the Tories is that the truth isn’t on their side and senior people in the NHS have been lining up to rubbish their claim.

First, Stephen Dorrell, chairman of the Health Select Committee, and former Tory Health Secretary no less, said the GP contract “is not why pressures exist.” Then, Clare Gerada, from the Royal College of GPs said:

I think it’s lazy to blame the 2004 GP contract. They’re blaming a contract that’s nearly 10 years old for an issue that’s become a problem recently.

Finally, Dr Vautrey from the BMA’s GP Committee said this morning:

I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that the changes ten years ago have had an impact on what’s happening in Accident and Emergency departments today.

The truth is revealed by this graph: Labour eliminated the winter crisis in A&E, but under David Cameron we saw a winter A&E crisis last year and an unprecedented summer A&E crisis this year.

In the last 12 months, a million people have waited more than four hours in A&E. Four-hour waits in A&E are up, trolley waits are up, ambulance queues are up, delayed discharges are up and we’re even seeing people being ferried to hospitals in police cars because ambulances aren’t available.

There’s only one person responsible for the A&E crisis, and that’s David Cameron.

Andrew Gwynne is the Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, and Shadow Health Minister

A shortage of resources means police cars have had to ferry people to hospital. Photo: Getty Images/Cate Gillon
Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
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Commons Confidential: Fearing the Wigan warrior

An electoral clash, select committee elections as speed dating, and Ed Miliband’s political convalescence.

Members of Labour’s disconsolate majority, sitting in tight knots in the tearoom as the MP with the best maths skills calculates who will survive and who will die, based on the latest bad poll, observe that Jeremy Corbyn has never been so loyal to the party leadership. The past 13 months, one told me, have been the Islington rebel’s longest spell without voting against Labour. The MP was contradicted by a colleague who argued that, in voting against Trident renewal, Corbyn had defied party policy. There is Labour chatter that an early general election would be a mercy killing if it put the party out of its misery and removed Corbyn next year. In 2020, it is judged, defeat will be inevitable.

The next London mayoral contest is scheduled for the same date as a 2020 election: 7 May. Sadiq Khan’s people whisper that when they mentioned the clash to ministers, they were assured it won’t happen. They are uncertain whether this indicates that the mayoral contest will be moved, or that there will be an early general election. Intriguing.

An unguarded retort from the peer Jim O’Neill seems to confirm that a dispute over the so-called Northern Powerhouse triggered his walkout from the Treasury last month. O’Neill, a fanboy of George Osborne and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, gave no reason when he quit Theresa May’s government and resigned the Tory whip in the Lords. He joined the dots publicly when the Resolution Foundation’s director, Torsten Bell, queried the northern project. “Are you related to the PM?” shot back the Mancunian O’Neill. It’s the way he tells ’em.

Talk has quietened in Westminster Labour ranks of a formal challenge to Corbyn since this year’s attempt backfired, but the Tories fear Lisa Nandy, should the leader fall under a solar-powered ecotruck selling recycled organic knitwear.

The Wigan warrior is enjoying favourable reviews for her forensic examination of the troubled inquiry into historic child sex abuse. After Nandy put May on the spot, the Tory three-piece suit Alec Shelbrooke was overheard muttering: “I hope she never runs for leader.” Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, the Thelma and Louise of Tory opposition to Mayhem, were observed nodding in agreement.

Select committee elections are like speed dating. “Who are you?” inquired Labour’s Kevan Jones (Granite Central)of a stranger seeking his vote. She explained that she was Victoria Borwick, the Tory MP for Kensington, but that didn’t help. “This is the first time you’ve spoken to me,” Jones continued, “so the answer’s no.” The aloof Borwick lost, by the way.

Ed Miliband is joining Labour’s relaunched Tribune Group of MPs to continue his political convalescence. Next stop: the shadow cabinet?

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage