Labour leader Ed Miliband has said it is ‘shameful’ a Sheffield hospital had to call in the Red Cross for support due to pressure on A&E services.
Speaking to The Star after talking to hundreds of students and school pupils at an event at Sheffield Hallam University, Mr Miliband said Labour have fully-costed £2.5 billion plans to improve NHS standards if they are elected.
It was revealed last week that pressure on the A&E department at the Northern General Hospital had resulted in Red Cross being asked to help transport patients home in Sheffield.
National pressures on A&E this month also saw a hospital in Swindon put up a tent in its car park to treat patients.
Mr Miliband said: “It is shameful we have reached a situation where tents are being set up and the Red Cross is being called in to help. That is what the NHS has become under David Cameron.”
During the public event, he said money raised by introducing a ‘mansion tax’ could help pay for more medical staff.
One student nurse in the audience told Mr Miliband that over Christmas ambulances were facing two-hour waits outside Sheffield’s A&E department, with ‘people all over the corridors in trolleys’ and waiting hours for treatment.
Mr Miliband said Labour will soon put forward a ‘comprehensive plan’ on the NHS, focused on providing better access to GP and community care services to take pressure off hospitals.
The purpose of Mr Milband’s visit was to appeal to young voters to get behind Labour at the next election, with the speech taking place on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s political home turf.
He said Labour would lower the voting age to 16 if elected.
Labour has calculated that almost one million people - including more than 4,600 in Sheffield - have fallen off the electoral register, which it blames on the ‘hasty’ introduction of individual voter registration.
Mr Miliband said many lost voters are young people, with universities no longer able to block register students in halls of residence. The Labour leader and Doncaster North MP said the situation is a ‘final insult to young people from David Cameron and Nick Clegg’.
He also praised the ‘brilliant campaign’ by Labour’s Sheffield Hallam parliamentary candidate Oliver Coppard, who is running against Mr Clegg. The Lib Dems have dismissed Labour’s voting registration claims, saying Mr Clegg has secured £10m of extra funding to support registration by students and other groups.