Sunak promises action on ambulance waiting times as NHS braces for winter

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said extra funding would help the NHS “get on with the job” of tackling ambulance queues outside hospital A&E departments.

The PM, who promised a “bold and radical” approach to the NHS, acknowledged the problems of bed-blocking, with patients unable to be discharged into the community.

He said the £8 billion package set out in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement for the NHS and social care would “tackle some of these problems”.

Rishi Sunak visit to Staffordshire
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to a chemistry class at Erasmus Darwin Academy in Burntwood, Staffordshire (PA)

Speaking during a visit to the Erasmus Darwin Academy in Burntwood, Staffordshire, Mr Sunak said: “One of the most important things we need to do is support people to move out of hospitals back into their homes, back into their communities, and that’s why the money that we have put in is going to go and support social care.

“And if we can do that, and we can start doing that very quickly, then that will really help alleviate some of the pressure on ambulances waiting outside hospitals.

“I know that the NHS are committed to delivering on it. We’ve given them significant funding so they can get on with the job.”

Earlier, during a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Mr Sunak called for the NHS to modernise and innovate.

He said: “We all want it to be easier for people to see their family GP. We don’t want our loved ones waiting so long for ambulances or for the operations they need.

“But better care requires innovation. ”

As well as new drugs and technologies – including robots assisting surgery, doctors using virtual reality headsets and drones delivering medicine in remote locations – “we also need to radically innovate in how we do things”.

Patients would be given “genuine choice about where and when to access care” with “radical transparency” about the performance of the NHS.

The Government will also make sure the NHS is “thinking creatively” about the roles and capabilities needed in the heath workforce.

“When it comes to the NHS, we all share the same ambition, to give everybody in the country the best possible care, free at the point of use,” he said.

“But to deliver it, we need to be bold and radical in challenging conventional wisdom.”