Shadow health secretary attacks Norman Lamb over East of England Ambulance Service Trust - Norfolk and Suffolk MPs jump to his defence

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
10:48 PM

Norfolk and Suffolk MPs jumped to the defence of health minister Norman Lamb after he was attacked over the East of England Ambulance Service Trust shortcomings by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

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Norman Lamb response to Andy Burnham comments

“For many years, residents in rural Norfolk and Suffolk haven’t been receiving the level of ambulance service they deserve. Because of pressure from me and other Norfolk and Suffolk MPs, two years ago the CQC finally carried out a detailed inspection of the East of England Ambulance Trust, highlighting significant failings in response times and patient care. Since then, a report has been produced by Dr Anthony Marsh setting out clear steps for delivering the improvements we need, and Trust has recruited a strong new leadership team including Dr Marsh himself, who ran one of the most successful ambulance trusts in the country.

“Andy Burnham and previous Labour health ministers have a great deal to answer for, including the crippling PFI contract which gave vast profits to private sector investors, and was described by the Public Accounts Select Committee as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. The Norfolk and Norwich Hospital has now managed to reduce handover delays from 1400 patients waiting over an hour last winter, to only nine so far this year. And the East of England Ambulance Trust has committed to recruiting 400 new student paramedics, to ensure it has the frontline staff it needs to deliver a good service for the future.

“As Care Minister, I am anything but complacent about health services in England. I am absolutely committed to tackling the increasing fragmentation that took place in the NHS under Labour, building a more integrated health and care system that is designed around the needs of patients, not organisations. And only this week the Government’s Care Bill completed a key step towards the statute books, finally fixing a care system that Andy Burnham himself described in 2010 as an ‘area that had not been properly reformed and was one of great unfairness’.

“But Labour’s comments yesterday were not just unjustified. They also indicate everything that was wrong with the culture of cover-ups and denial that persisted in parts of the NHS under the previous government. My job as health minister is to always put patients first, hold public services to account, and challenge when they are not good enough. I will never apologise for doing so.”

During a heated House of Commons debate the Labour minister accused Mr Lamb of complacency over Accident and Emergency department delays, mocking the Norfolk minister for campaigning on ambulances while he was in the department responsible.

Mr Lamb claimed delays in hand overs at Accident and Emergency departments were “not acceptable”, but said ambulances had been stacking up at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital under a Labour government, and delays of 30 minutes were down by more than 30pc on last year.

During the debate called by Labour, Mr Burnham said ambulance response times had increased across the country because crews were unable to hand over patients at full Accident and Emergency Departments.

“That has left large swathes of the country—particularly in rural areas—without adequate ambulance cover, and very serious incidents have taken place across the country,” he said.

He added: “We have been looking at the minister’s website, which makes us wonder whether he considers himself a Minister or an observer of events in the NHS. Under the headline “Norman Lamb’s North Norfolk Ambulance Survey” he states: ‘I have been campaigning over the last year to improve unacceptable ambulance response times in rural Norfolk’. My God, this is the Minister! He is campaigning against his own Government.”

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman told Mr Burnham that the Norfolk MPs were “on the case” with Mr Lamb “leading the charge”, accusing the former health secretary of an “unfair, ill-judged and overly partisan” attack.

While Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said the regions MPs had worked together to hold the ambulance service to account and had managed to get the entire board replaced.

“That was a very difficult thing to do, especially when were at times accused of attacking and undermining the NHS whereas in fact, far from showing complacency, individual MPs were working together to make sure that patients came first, not some artificial target that was bad for patients.”

11 comments

  • And 'know it all Castle is the 'expert'.

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    maryjane

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Burnham is right that it is staggering Lamb can stand at the dispatch box telling us everything is well in the NHS while complaining on his own doorstep about ambulances. Whatever your position on this I think it's the first story I have seen in a long time where the health minister is being held to account. The EDP are quick to blame EEAST but let Lamb off the hook.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Norman has been so loyal to the Conservatives, using his "this is a coalition" motto, that Tories may as well not bother with a candidate in 2015. He is nothing but a traitor to those that voted for him.

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    HappisburghHarry

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • We as I have said before, N&N too small for a main hospital in Norfolk. Norman needs to open his eyes to see the whole problem, and not just one side. Same can be said about ambulance watch EDP. Let's look at the whole NHS Norfolk , none of it can be said "it's working well" we need a NHS that service it's public now and years to come. Norman what about taking Ambulance service out of the NHS and let it stand alone like other emergency services. But then again that would need government investing in a service ; to which they cut back on year after year. Police and Fire are always fighting for more money and being told No. So what chance do we have having a NHS fit for purpose.

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    DAVE !

    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

  • Isn't it amazing how Burnham and the opposition can make all this fuss let alone when they were in power they did nothing. Anything Labour is involved in falls apart then it takes years to fix it, it's happened with our economy, NHS and NCC are going the same way

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    Sweet cheeks

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • And 'know it all Castle is the 'expert'.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • And 'know it all Castle is the 'expert'.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • Andy Burnham is spot on. We are heartily sick of the Norfolk MPs making a big issue of failing Norfolk Services but NOT taking responsibility. The excuses are wearing thin - especially on the Ambulance Service.

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    Mick Castle

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • There is no doubt that the N&N is not big enough to serve the communities which has been a problem for many years. This was the case when Burnham was Health Secretary so a bit of honesty from him would be welcome. Indeed it was under his stewardship that so many of the problems that are now coming to light took place. Under Labour there was a massive increase in funding for which we have seen very little benefit. Management in the NHS is often not up to it and that is root cause of the problem.

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    andy

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • There may be a way to encourage the N&N, and others, to take some responsibility for improving the ambulance service. How about if A&E do not accept a patient within 5 minutes of arrival, it has to make a meaningful payment to the ambulance service? After 30 minutes any such fee would have to at least double. If this does not solve the problem then increase the fee payable. All the money would then stay in the NHS, I suspect we would quickly have more ambulance freer to do what we want which is to respond to emergencies. Just a thought!

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    andy

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • And 'know it all Castle is the 'expert'.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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