Blair defends NHS13th December 2006
Tony Blair has defended the NHS, saying it is the ‘pride’ of Britain despite concerns over mismanagement and spiralling deficits.
Responding to criticism from Conservative leader David Cameron, he said the NHS was recovering from years of cutbacks suffered under the Tories.
But Mr Cameron pointed to the Commons health select committee’s recent conclusions that the financial crisis was caused by constantly changing targets and mismanagement.
Last year the NHS went into the red by £547m.
The committee said poor management at all levels of the NHS was to blame, made worse by staff pay deals and pressure to meet NHS targets.
During the exchange, during Prime Ministers' Questions, Mr Cameron said A&E departments were under threat, maternity units were under review and community hospitals were closing.
And he criticised Mr Blair for publicly blaming local health staff, when the report blamed poor central management.
Mr Blair defended his government’s record, saying the committee had also identified improvements – not least that the waiting time for outpatient’s appointments now averaged four weeks.
And he said the NHS was on course to deliver the 18-week target from referral to treatment when 10 years ago many waited 18 months.
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