Watch: Health Secretary Steve Barclay confronted by angry woman about ambulance delays
An angry member of the public has confronted Health Secretary Steve Barclay in the street, demanding to know why the Government has done “nothing” about lengthy waits for ambulances.
The Cabinet minister was speaking to media outside Moorfields Eye Hospital in Old Street, central London, when a woman interrupted him to highlight how “people have died” during waits for the emergency services.
This comes after a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showed that patients were facing “frequent and prolonged” waits for ambulances.
The report exposed several cases, such as that of an elderly patient who died after waiting 14 hours for assistance from South Central Ambulance Service.
On Thursday, Mr Barclay was given a tour of an operating theatre by surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital, before speaking to press on the street outside.
During his interviews, a woman passing by approached Mr Barclay and asked him: “Are you going to do anything about the ambulances waiting, and the people dying out?”
Mr Barclay replied: “Of course we are,” but the woman continued: “Don’t you think 12 years is long enough?
“Twelve years – you’ve done bugger all about it.
“People have died, and all you’ve done is nothing.”
Following the heated interaction, Mr Barclay said that reducing ambulance waiting times is an “absolute priority” for the Government.
He told the PA news agency: “There’s a range of measures that we’re taking.
“We’re looking at conveyance rates in ambulances, we’re looking at how we address variation in performance, we’re looking at funding – an extra £150 million to the ambulance service, a further £50 million into call centres, for 111 and 999, in terms of call handling, a further £30 million into St John Ambulance around the auxiliary ambulance performance.
“We’re also then looking at what happens with the ambulance handovers, so emergency departments, how we triage those, how we look at the allocation of this within the system.
“Of course, that is all connected to delayed discharge and people being ready to leave hospital who are not doing so, and that’s about the integration of care between social care and hospitals.
“So there’s a range of issues within how we deliver on ambulances, but it’s an absolute priority both for the Government and for NHS England.”
When asked by PA whether he was worried about the future of the NHS under a likely tax-cutting economy run by Liz Truss, Mr Barclay said she was “the longest-serving Cabinet minister” but did not comment on her tax policies.