Underfunded NHS faces 'death by 1,000 cuts', warns Jeremy Corbyn

The NHS is being starved of resources and is facing death by 1,000 cuts, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned in parliament.

In a prime minister's question time debate on Wednesday, the Labour leader hit out at the government over rising pressure on the NHS, warning that the health service 'needs money, needs support and needs it now'.

Accusing prime minister Theresa May of being 'in denial about the state of the NHS', Mr Corbyn highlighted figures showing that the NHS has 14,000 fewer beds now than in 2010 and pointed to data showing that the NHS had recorded its 'worst ever' A&E performance in December.

'This winter 100,000 patients have been forced to wait more than half an hour in the back of an ambulance, but still the prime minister refuses to give the NHS the money it needs,' Mr Corbyn told MPs. 'Can she tell us how many more patients will face a life threatening wait in the back of an ambulance this winter?'

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Ms May repeated the government's recent claim that the NHS had been 'better prepared for this winter than ever before'. She said: 'There are winter pressures, we were prepared for those winter pressures.'

The prime minister added that the Conservative government had put in extra funding for the health service every year since it came to office.

However, funding growth since 2009/10 has been 1.3% per year on average - well below the average 4.1% annual growth between 1955/56 and 2015/16, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Mr Corbyn said: 'A Labour government wouldn't underfund the NHS, wouldn't be privatising the NHS, wouldn't be underfunding social care - a Labour government would be committed to an NHS free at the point of use as a human right.

NHS crisis

'The prime minister must be aware of ambulances backed up in hospital car parks, nurses treating patients in the back of ambulances.'

Pointing to reports that a man had frozen to death this winter after a 16-hour wait for an ambulance, and other cases of long delays, the Labour leader said: 'These are not isolated cases - they are common parlance all over the country.

'The prime minister is frankly in denial about the state of the NHS. People using the NHS can see from their own experiences that it is being starved of resources. People are dying unnecessarily.

'GP numbers are down, nurses are leaving, the NHS is in crisis - I ask this question of the prime minister - when is she going to face up to reality and take action to save the NHS from death by 1,000 cuts.'

Ms May pointed to problems in the NHS in Wales, where a Labour government is in office, and accused Mr Corbyn of simply asking for more money when variation between hospitals suggested that some were able to cope within existing resources.

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