The final PMQs of 2017 observed Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn waving conflicting statistics about the NHS. The Labour leader quoted Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, stating that the service requires another £4 billion and that it had got less than half that.
The Prime Minister responded that NHS funding was at record levels and that despite Jeremy Corbyn’s objections week after week, there were more demonstrative tests than seven years ago, with 2.2 million people getting operations, with more elderly patients getting hip replacements and approximately 65,000 people who would not be alive today, had they not had advanced cancer care.
Jeremy Corbyn announced that countless patients were kept waiting in the back of ambulances for more than half an hour and if the NHS was suitably resourced, why was it not reaching its objectives, and could Theresa May give a cast iron guarantee that these objectives would be met?
Theresa May stated the government’s NHS reforms were producing results: “We’re proud of the NHS and we’ll make it even better.”
Jeremy Corbyn said A&E waiting objectives had not been reached for two years, and where were the 5,000 GPs the government had pledged to deliver by 2020? Theresa May answered that in Wales, where Labour is in government, the usual waiting time in A&E was last met in 2008.
That was because Wales depended on block income from the United Kingdom, which had been cut by 5 percent. Cancer patients commence treatment inside 62 days, better than in England and there were less GPs than when Theresa May became Prime Minister.
Six million cuts had been made to social care resources, two million older people’s care needs had been unmet, and still, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, had failed to put an extra penny in the budget for social care.
Theresa May announced that the Tories had put £2 billion into social care in the spring budget and Labour’s NHS record was characterised as a mess by Jeremy Corbyn before he was Labour leader.
“When he is running for leader, he denounces Labour’s record. Now he is a leader, he tries to defend it,” the Prime Minister stated.
Jeremy Corbyn replied by reciting the Tory leader of Warwickshire County Council, who announced the government needed to tackle long-standing underfunding in the NHS and this winter, the service is in crisis.
Theresa May terminated by mocking Jeremy Corbyn over his foresight that he would be prime minister by Christmas, stating Labour was “wrong, wrong, wrong” about that, as well as about Brexit and the budget.
Theresa May left Tory MPs yelling “more, more, more”, and it was unquestionably one of her most positive displays in recent weeks, but it was not a particularly illuminating dialogue, or even a really definitive one.
We end the year where PMQs conclude much of the time, with what’s broadly a deadlock. Jeremy Corbyn did not have any particularly interesting moments, but his issues were substantial and sturdy, and his appearance seemingly ended up in the “job done” section.
Contentions about the NHS at PMQs frequently just become statistic-slinging gatherings, and that is what this felt like. Most of the personages including the necessary reference to Wales seemed familiar, although Theresa May did have a new claim about the number of people now supposedly living who would not have been under prior cancer survival rates.
It was somewhat amusing but did not close the debate and Theresa May, did hammer Jeremy Corbyn in the quote bartering challenge towards the end, and her Jeremy Corbyn quote trumped his quote from a Tory council leader and Theresa May’s ultimate soundbite did what was expected in the events.