Health secretary Steve Barclay has been confronted in the street over the government’s handling of growing ambulance waits.
The politician was speaking to the media outside Moorfields Eye Hospital in central London when he was approached by a woman who took issue with the way in which he and the government have handled the situation.
Ambulance waits in the UK have been branded “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission, which noted at least one inident in which a lengthy wait for emergency services resulted in the death of an elderly patient.
Waits of up to 14 hours and longer have been recorded for an ambulance.
Who is Steve Barclay?
Steve Barclay is the MP for North East Cambridgeshire and was first elected t represent the seat in 2010.
He has been serving as health secretary under Boris Johnson since July 2022, after former health secretary Sajid Javid resigned from his position.
Mr Barclay has been a loyal ally of Mr Johnson during his time in power, serving is several different roles during his premiership.
This includes the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Downing Street chief of staff.
What happened during Steve Barclay’s media briefing?
Mr Barclay met with journalists outside Moorfields Eye Hospital on Old Street in central London following a tour of an operating theatre.
It was during this media briefing that Mr Barclay was approached by an angry member of the public, with the cameras still rolling.
The woman could be seen in the footage berating the health secretary over lengthy emergency service waits.
She asked Mr Barclay: “Are you going to do anything about the ambulances waiting, and the people dying out?”
He attempted to repsond to the woman, saying “of course we are”, however the woman went on to criticise the work he and his government have done.
She said: “Don’t you think 12 years is long enough?
“Twelve years – you’ve done bugger all about it.
“People have died, and all you’ve done is nothing.”
What did Steve Barclay say about the heated exchange?
Following the inicident, Mr Barclay responded to the present media.
He told PA news agency: “There’s a range of measures that we’re taking.
“We’re looking at conveyance rates in ambulances, we’re looking at how we address variation in performance, we’re looking at funding – an extra £150 million to the ambulance service, a further £50 million into call centres, for 111 and 999, in terms of call handling, a further £30 million into St John Ambulance around the auxiliary ambulance performance.
“We’re also then looking at what happens with the ambulance handovers, so emergency departments, how we triage those, how we look at the allocation of this within the system.
“Of course, that is all connected to delayed discharge and people being ready to leave hospital who are not doing so, and that’s about the integration of care between social care and hospitals.
“So there’s a range of issues within how we deliver on ambulances, but it’s an absolute priority both for the Government and for NHS England.”
There have been concern over the impact on the NHS and its service if Liz Truss were to win the Tory leadership contest and introduce tax-cuts, however Mr Barclay sheepishly avoided the topic.
When asked if Ms Truss’s tax plans could impact the NHS, he only told PA that she was the “longest serving Cabinet minister”.