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Rishi Sunak shot back at a brutal line of questioning by Keir Starmer in PMQs today by highlighting long wait times for NHS ambulances in Labour-run Wales.
Mr Starmer focused on the issue of NHS wait times by listing a series of places across the UK and stating how long it would take for an ambulance to arrive in them.
But the PM shot back that the Labour leader was deliberately not mentioning anywhere in Wales.
He added that the health service was dealing with an “unprecedented” situation, and also pointed to a flu outbreak as the reason for the wait times.
Thousands of nurses across England are going on strike as a bitter pay dispute with the Government continues but the Health Secretary has warned “unaffordable” wage rises “will mean cutting patient care”.
Nursing staff from more than 55 NHS trusts will take part in industrial action on Wednesday and Thursday following two days of action in December.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced that two further, bigger strikes will be held next month, while the GMB union is expected to announce further ambulance worker strike dates on Wednesday afternoon.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said while he recognises the cost of living pressures on NHS staff, “unaffordable pay rises” will stoke inflation.
Writing in the Independent, he said: “If we provide unaffordable pay rises to NHS staff, we will take billions of pounds away from where we need it most. Unaffordable pay hikes will mean cutting patient care and stoking the inflation that would make us all poorer.”
He insisted there is “much common ground” between both sides of the dispute, stating that ministers “want to work with union leaders to improve the NHS and deliver better care” and that a “fair way” to a resolution can be found.
The NHS is reminding patients to attend all their usual appointments unless they have been contacted, and to seek urgent care if needed during the strikes.
NHS England said patients should use services “wisely” by going to NHS 111 online but continuing to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
Deputy chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle said: “The NHS has tried and tested methods in place to manage any disruption and has been working hard to minimise the impact for patients.”
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