An angry woman interrupted a live broadcast with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to accuse him of doing nothing to reduce ambulance wait times.
She demanded to know why the government had ‘fucked the hell’ about long waits for patients to get help despite the Tories having been in power for 12 years.
The Cabinet Minister was speaking to the media outside Moorfields Eye Hospital in Old Street, central London, when the woman interrupted him to point out how ‘people have died’ while waiting for the emergency services today.
It comes after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report showed patients faced ‘frequent and prolonged’ waits for ambulances at the South Central Ambulance Service.
Yesterday’s report revealed several cases, such as an elderly patient who waited upstairs for 14 hours for help after a fall.
In another case, a long delay contributed to the death of a patient who fell and was trapped under his bed.
“Delays in reaching people who had requested emergency assistance were frequent and prolonged,” the report’s authors said.
Mr Barclay was shown around an operating theater by surgeons from Moorfields Eye Hospital, before speaking to the press on the street outside.
But things didn’t go as planned for him, as during his interviews he was confronted by a member of the public who asked him, “Are you going to do something about the ambulances waiting and the people dying? “
Mr Barclay replied: ‘Of course we are’, but the woman continued: ‘Don’t you think 12 is long enough?
“Twelve years – you screwed it up.
“People have died, and everything you’ve done is nothing.”
After speaking the angry words, she turned her back on Mr Barclay and walked away.
The heated interaction drew a lot of attention, with some calling the woman an “icon” for confronting the minister.
Mr Barclay later told the media that reducing ambulance waiting times was a “top priority” for the government.
He said: “We are taking a series of measures.
‘We’re looking at ambulance transport rates, we’re looking at how we deal with variations in performance, we’re looking at funding – an extra £150m for the ambulance service, an extra £50m for the centers calls, for 111 and 999, in terms of call handling, an additional £30 million in St John Ambulance around the performance of the auxiliary ambulance.
“We also then look at what happens with ambulance transfers, so emergency services, how we triage them, how we look at the distribution of that within the system.
“Of course, it’s all about the delay in discharge and people being ready to leave the hospital who don’t, and it’s about the integration of care between social care and hospitals.
“So there are a range of issues in the way we deliver ambulances, but it’s a top priority for both the government and NHS England.”
Asked if he was worried about the future of the NHS in a likely tax-cutting economy led by Liz Truss, Mr Barclay said she was ‘the longest serving minister for Cabinet’ but did not comment on its tax policy.
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