Piers Morgan grills Rishi Sunak over his mum's 'horror story' at Sussex hospital - 'Scene out of a war zone'
and live on Freeview channel 276
In the clip, which can watched in full on YouTube here, Morgan said: "Can I tell you a personal story that I found quite shocking?
"My mother [Gabrielle O'Meara] is 79 and she had a heart attack three months ago. She was taken to her local hospital and they said she had a heart attack.
“My mother was seen when she got there and then she was put on a trolley in an A&E corridor for nearly seven hours.
“The heart monitor battery ran out and nobody fixed it. At one stage no nurse came for three or four hours, there were between 35 and 40 other people on trolleys in the corridors of this A&E.”
Morgan said most of the people waiting were elderly, adding: “Old men were begging for bottles to urinate in. Others were crying in pain or discomfort.
“She said it was a scene out of a war zone and couldn't believe what she was seeing. She was also terrified, of course, after being told that she had a heart attack, that no one was putting her into a unit to fix.
“Once she got up there, the treatment she got was world class. She was fixed within 36 hours."
The presenter showed the Prime Minister a picture of his mother, who has 'worked and paid her taxes all her life'.
“When she really needed the NHS they eventually came through but she could have died on that trolley,” Morgan added. “I think that’s shocking.
"Almost everyone who has gone to A&E has a similar horror story. I don't blame the staff, they are completely rushed off their feet.
"When you get there, the treatment is amazing. We have an amazing health service. It's just getting up there is hell.
"This was a Monday night, Prime Minister, not even a weekend and not a major city. This is Brighton. How can this be happening?”
In response, Sunak said ‘it’s not good enough’, adding: “That is a shocking story and I’m really glad that she’s feeling better now. Send her my best. I’m glad she got the treatment she needed.
“When you shut down the country for the best part of two years, that has had an impact on everything since then. And we just have to recognise that reality.
"What we can do is put more money in and hire more people – which we are – and put more diagnostic treatment in to get the tests and scans they need quicker.
"Ambulance and waiting times are better this winter than when I first got the job. That shows we are making progress but it's not good enough."
The chief operating officer at University Hospitals Sussex has since issued a statement, in response to the TalkTV interview.
Dr Andy Heeps said: “Our staff are working incredibly hard to give their patients the very best care but sadly we all recognise the significant challenges they face and the impact this can have on people needing their support.
“Waiting times in A&E reflect pressures across the whole local health and care system and winter is the busiest time of year. There has been a huge amount of work done to reduce the amount of time patients have to wait and further improvements are still being made.
“We will be opening a new surgical assessment unit in Brighton which we expect to help manage demands on staff more effectively and we continue to work with partners to speed up processes to free up hospital beds once people are well enough to leave.”
In the interview, the Prime Minister admitted that the government has failed on its pledge to cut NHS waiting lists – when told by Morgan that waiting lists are ‘still nearly half a million more’ than the start of last year.
Sunak said: “We have not made enough progress.
“We've invested record amounts into the NHS. More doctors, more nurses, more scanners. The NHS is doing more today than it ever has done but industrial action has had an impact.
“In November, we had a month when there were no strikes. The waiting lists fell by almost 100,000."
Morgan drew reference to a new statistic which revealed that nearly 35,000 patients a month are waiting 12 hours or more for a hospital bed in 2023 – ‘3,000 times higher than in 2011’.
Sunak replied: "That's not good enough and that's why we're working very hard to bring down the people waiting for A&E treatment."
“For the first time in 75 years, we have a long term workforce plan. We have just started training more doctors, more nurses, more dentists.
"Overtime, people will be less reliant on coming [to hospitals].”
Morgan also grilled the Prime Minister about the parking payment issue at hospitals which is now 'completely out of control'.
"It has risen by 50 per cent a year, the price of parking,” Morgan said. “Nearly £50 million is paid by NHS staff to have the privilege to park in hospitals where they're saving lives. I think this... It's unconscionable."
Sunak responded: “I'm able to report we have rolled out across all NHS trusts, a free parking policy focused on those who need it the most.
"Blue badge holders with disabilities, people who have multiple outpatient appointments because of their condition, parents with sick children who need to stay overnight, NHS staff who working night shifts."
Morgan pressed the PM for a reason as to why any NHS staff member should have to pay for parking.
Sunak said: "Lots of people get to work in different ways. Those are the people we've targeted free parking on. The most at need groups.
"We've arranged for nurses to have a very good pay rise.
“I will always look to see how we can support our staff. I agree with you, they do an incredible job and we our lucky to have them.”