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 - Credit: PA

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.

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.

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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.

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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.'

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