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
Photo: Getty
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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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