Health Secretary roasted in car crash interview on NHS waiting lists

The number of people on NHS waiting lists is up 620,00 since Rishi Sunak came into office

Victoria Atkins Health Secretary interview

Heath Secretary Victoria Atkins was roasted in an interview this morning after she was unable to name a single NHS trust where waiting lists had been reduced, despite insisting they had. 

In an interview with Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast this morning, Atkins was asked to clarify her statement that waiting lists in England had been reduced. 

The most recent figures show that the overall number of people waiting for non-emergency treatment fell five months in a row, from September 2023 to January 2024. However the figure is still up 360,000 from the same month last year, and up a significant 620,000 in the number of cases from when Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister. 

“It’s all very well saying these waiting times are coming down but they’re still too high, and you say there are some parts of the country that are doing well, where?” asked Munchetty. 

Atkins, who was appointed Health Secretary last November, said she was looking every week at NHS trusts to “ensure that there are trusts that are meeting and exceeding the 80% target for people being treated within four hours.”

To which Munchetty asked “which ones”, “could you name them?”

Atkins replied: “I don’t think it’s fair actually for trusts, I’ve tried always to be even-handed on how I deal with trusts. So I will try and support those trusts who are doing well and also those ones doing badly.”

“I’m sorry Victoria Atkins,” interjected the presenter. “If you’re going to flag ones that are doing well, great, you say there are ones doing well, say them out loud.. tell our audience where these great trusts are.”

Again, Atkins was unable to name a NHS trust as an example of where waiting list targets were being met.

The Health Secretary instead said: “What I’m saying is we know there will be some people who will have the sorts of experiences that are simply unacceptable, but there are also people who have had good experiences.” 

Viewers online were quick to label the exchange a car crash interview for Atkin’s failure to provide a straight answer to the question. On the broadcast rounds this Thursday morning, she faced a grilling by a number of broadcasters, including over her party’s introducing under-funded tax cuts at a time of national crisis for the NHS and the government’s failed pledges on cutting healthcare waiting lists.

Cat Hobbs, Director of campaign group We Own It wrote on X: “It’s not a mystery why NHS waiting lists are so high.

“The NHS gets £40 billion LESS per year than comparable European countries

“If Victoria Atkins wants to reduce waiting lists, she needs to FUND THE NHS (and stop wasting money on privatisation).”

(Image credit: BBC Breakfast screenshot)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

Comments are closed.