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Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, responding to figures showing more patients are waiting more than four hours at A&E, said:

"We have repeatedly warned Jeremy Hunt about the intense pressures on A&E and urged him to get a grip. His failure to face up to this problem cannot continue.

"The NHS in England has missed the A&E target in almost every week that this Secretary of State has been in post and last week hit a new low.

"England's A&Es struggled in a way not seen since the bad old days of the mid-1990s. Thousands of patients were left waiting hours on end to be seen. In some hospitals, one in three people waited more than four hours.

"There are two principal causes of this increasing chaos. First, hospitals are continuing to make severe cuts to front-line staffing levels, with many operating below recommended staffing levels. Second, deep cuts to council care budgets mean patients can't be discharged from hospital beds. This has a knock-on effect right through the hospital. With no free beds on the wards, A&E staff can't admit patients and, with A&E full, paramedics can't hand over patients. So we see long queues of ambulances outside hospitals as the pressure backs up right through the system.

"These problems are well-known but they have been neglected as, for months, the NHS has been distracted by the biggest-ever top-down re-organisation. Standards of care are deteriorating across the country as the NHS is dragged down by David Cameron's toxic mix of cuts and re-organisation. Almost 5000 nursing posts have been lost since David Cameron entered Downing Street.

"Ministers must urgently develop a plan to bring all A&Es in England back up to national standards. They must stop the job cuts and ensure there are enough staff on the ground across the NHS to provide safe care."


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