Election 2015 Weaponising the NHS

Election 2015 Weaponising the NHS

David Cameron has accused Ed Miliband of a “disgusting” attempt to “weaponise” the NHS as accident and emergency wards face unprecedented pressure.

Mr Cameron said that Mr Miliband was using the NHS as a “political football” while offering “no solutions” to the pressure facing the health service.

In heated exchanges, Mr Cameron referred to an alleged conversation Mr Miliband had with Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, in which he allegedly said he wanted to “weaponise” the NHS ahead of the General Election.

Mr Cameron described it as the “most disgusting phrase I have ever heard in politics”.

He said: “Our changes have cut bureaucracy and saved £4.9 billion. You can see this as plain as you like. The leader of the opposition apparently said to the political editor of the BBC ‘I want to weaponise the NHS’. I think that is disgraceful.

“The NHS is not a weapon, it is a way we care for our families, it’s a way we care for the elderly, it’s a way we look after the frail. So perhaps when he gets to his feet he will deny that he said he wants to weaponise the NHS, a disgusting thing to say.”

Mr Miliband did not comment on whether he said he wants to “weaponise” the NHS, but said: “I’ll tell him what’s disgusting. It’s a Prime Minister who said that people could put their trust in him on the NHS, and he has betrayed that trust. He is in denial about the crisis on the NHS.

“This is a crisis on his watch. That’s why people know if they want to get rid of the crisis in the NHS they have to get rid of this Prime Minister.”

Asked whether he accepted the NHS was in crisis, Mr Cameron responded: “Our NHS is facing huge pressure this winter particularly on its A&E units.

“But the NHS is facing this winter with more doctors, more nurses and more money than it has ever had in its history. What is important is that we recognise the pressures that are there and put in place plans for the short, medium and long term.

“But recognise that with the massive increase in the number of people going to A&E any health system in the world would struggle to cope with this pressure. While we are interested in improving the NHS, he simply wants to use it as a political football.”

Mr Miliband replied: “The pressures on A&E are not just happening on his watch but are a direct result of the decisions he has taken. When he decided to close almost a quarter of walk in centres wasn’t it blindingly obvious that it would have a big impact on A&E?

“There’s one simple solution, get rid of this useless prime minister. No answer on care for the elderly. When he decided to ignore the pleas of doctors, nurses and patients and plough ahead with his damaging top-down reorganisation, wasn’t it blindingly obvious that if you divert £3 billion out of patient care it would have a big impact on A&E.”

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