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He can run, but he can’t hide: Jeremy Hunt tries to escape a news reporter as she demands answers about the deepening crisis in the NHS – a crisis he has caused [Image: Sky News].

The following transcript from BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours is shocking – not only because it shows that Theresa May has been trying to cover up the humanitarian crisis in the English National Health Service, but because it was reported by the diligently pro-Tory BBC:

So, “Theresa May, the Prime Minister, didn’t want any of this to get out”:

  • That the average ambulance wait is currently 40 minutes at a major NHS trust in the north of England;
  • That a man who had a heart attack waited five hours on a trolley for treatment;
  • That patients had been shut out of the hospital;
  • That cancer treatments might have to be cancelled because low staffing made them unsafe;
  • That nursing staff had expressed concern to their unions about unsafe working practices;
  • That calls on the 999 emergency number may be a waste of effort.

The last point is particularly corrosive; the 999 emergency number has been a quality standard that British people have considered almost sacred since it was introduced, and now the Conservatives have rendered it useless.

And people are still being left to die on trolleys in corridors.

No wonder Theresa May – the prime minister of the United Kingdom, don’t forget – wanted to stop the public from finding out about this.

But it seems the BBC is now well and truly on the case. Having failed to kill this story over the weekend, the Corporation seems to have decided it may as well jump in with both feet, so we got the following:

Record numbers of patients are facing long waits in A&Es as documents leaked to the BBC show the full extent of the winter crisis in the NHS in England.

Nearly a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours in A&E last week, with just one hospital hitting its target.

And huge numbers also faced long waits for a bed when A&E staff admitted them into hospital as emergency cases.

There were more than 18,000 “trolley waits” of four hours or more last week.

18 thousand trolley waits of four hours or more. Wasn’t Jeremy Hunt saying there were only a “handful” of these, only yesterday?

And where was Mr Hunt, exactly?

He was filmed running away from a TV news reporter – and embarrassingly having to U-turn after heading off in the wrong direction.

After making a speech to the King’s Fund think tank, in central London, he was chased by Sky News reporter Beth Rigby, who asked him whether he was scrapping four-hour waiting times or just watering them down (to include only patients he describes as being in genuine need of A&E treatment).

He refused to answer her questions, but had to double back, as he searched for his expensive chauffeur-driven ministerial car.

It is clear that the Conservatives have no answer to the facts that are being revealed.

They are also refusing – mark that word: refusing – to do anything at all about the crisis other than to deny its existence, try to redefine national standards so they conform with that denial, and run away from the facts while people continue to suffer.

In the past, health secretaries would have resigned long before any situation reached this point.

In fact, given the magnitude of the disaster, prime ministers would have resigned as well.

Isn’t it time we told Mr Hunt and Mrs May that their services are no longer needed?

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