Deputy prime minister Damian Green brutally responded to Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry’s attempts to attack A&E services in his constituency in Prime Minister’s Questions saying he was ‘entirely innocent.’
She said: “I noticed he didn’t want to talk about patient care at his local hospital.
“Could the reason be that his local A&E according to the boards most recent minutes and I quote – have severe staff shortages in medical and nursing care means patient safety is being put at risk and the only option to tackle those shortages is to cancel outpatient clinics and it gets worse, and it gets worse.”
Mrs Thornberry added: “There is going to be a public meeting tomorrow to consider closing his local A&E for good. In other words, in other words, all the things the First Secretary has been denying, what are you doing to our NHS? It is happening on your own doorstep. Isn’t it about time the First Secretary got a grip?”
Mr Green replied: “I am entirely innocent in this matter!”
“The Right Honourable Lady’s grasp of the facts is pretty shaky, the meeting tomorrow in my constituency is about the strategic transformation plan.”
He continued: “I am happy to assure her that I am entirely in favour of option one of that strategic plan which suggests, not just leaving A&E services in my hospital in my constituency, but actually expanding speciality services there.
“I would strongly suggest she doesn’t try to think she knows more about what is going on in my constituency than I do.”
Damian Green was standing in for Theresa May, who is abroad in the Middle East to further British interests in a region essential to security.
Mrs Thornberry was standing in for Jeremy Corbyn while Mrs May is away as part of parliamentary protocol.
The jibe at Mr Green came as part of an attack by Mr Thornberry on the state of nursing care, citing a survey by the RCN showing nurses were most concerned about excess workload, staff shortages, low pay and worries about patient care.
Mr Green responded said nurses can be assured this government will support them, both in pay and in numbers.
He said there are 10,000 more nurses on our wards “where we want to see them”.
He added Chancellor Hammonds recent budget was also a good budget for healthcare workers – adding tax cuts announced in the budget would help nurses and others.