MPs reject plan to spend £1.2bn of NHS surplus on social care to ease pressure on emergency departments

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 06 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3709
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

MPs have rejected a call from the Labour Party for the government to spend about half, £1.2bn (€1.4bn; $1.9bn), of the NHS’s 2012-13 underspend on social care as a way to ease pressure on hospitals’ accident and emergency departments.

In a fiery debate in the House of Commons on 5 June, MPs voted against (299 to 227) an urgent motion put forward by Labour calling for the money to be spent on boosting social care and ensuring adequate staffing levels to help ease pressure on hospitals. Many arguments were presented about the causes of current pressure on emergency services in England during the two and a half hour debate.

Many MPs, including the Tory Stephen Dorrell, who chairs the health select committee, rejected claims made in April by the health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, that changes to out of hours arrangements in the 2004 GP contract were the main reason for the current pressure on emergency departments.1 2

During the debate many MPs referred to figures contained in a …

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