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‘This is about life and death’: BBC’s Andrew Marr lashes Theresa May over NHS winter crisis


The BBC‘s Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died.

Marr said delays to emergency treatment were a ‘life and death matter’ and recalled his own illness in January 2013 in an interview with the Prime Minister.

He told Mrs May about a woman called Leah Butler Smith whose mother waited five hours for stroke treatment in recent weeks because of delays in an Accident and Emergency department in Essex.

Marr said if he had been forced to wait for five hours for treatment he might never have survived the devastating stroke he suffered while on a rowing machine.

In her first interview of the year, which was pre-recorded in Maidenhead yesterday, Mrs May insisted she understood the concerns and said the Government was working to tackle the problems – but admitted ‘nothing is perfect’.

The BBC's Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died

Mrs May (pictured in Maidenhead this morning with husband Philip) said the Government was working to tackle the problems in the health service with more money and detailed plans

Marr told her: ‘If I’d been waiting for five hours before I’d seen a doctor after my stroke I would not be here talking to you.

‘This is about life and death and up and down the country people are having horrendous experiences of the NHS. Where they say there’s a plan or not there is a real, real problem.’

Mrs May replied: ‘Well obviously you’ve raised an individual case with me which I haven’t seen the details of and I – I recognise that people have concerns if they have experience of that sort.

Marr returned to work eight months after his January 2013 stroke (pictured) but was left permanently disabled and using a cane to help him walk

‘If we look at what is happening across the NHS what we see is that actually the NHS is delivering for more people, it is treating more people and more people are being seen within the four hours every day than has been in the – a few years ago.

‘But of course nothing’s perfect and there is more for us to do.’

Mrs May insisted the Government had put more money into the NHS ahead of this winter.

And she said there had been extensive planning, part of which involved the cancellation of planned operations this week to free up capacity.

Both Mrs May and her health secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised for the cancellations this week and she said today: ‘I was apologising for the fact that of course as we’ve seen some operations have been postponed and some people have been delayed in being admitted to – to hospital.

‘Now, if you look across the NHS, experience is different. Experience is different from hospital to hospital as to what is – what is happening. There are some hospitals where very few operations have been cancelled.’