Theresa May has branded the British Red Cross “irresponsible and overblown” during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons for saying the NHS is experiencing a “humanitarian crisis”.
The Red Cross issued a warning on Friday about the pressure being faced by A&E departments and the social care system. It has since said that it stands by its original statement.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the charity, said: “The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country. We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds."
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, used the term during a question to the Prime Minister.
She said: “I have to say to him that I think we have all seen humanitarian crises around the world and to use that description of a National Health Service, which last year saw 2.5 million more people treated in A&E than six years ago, was irresponsible and overblown.”
The charity has also been criticised for its choice of wording in the Times. Columnist Melanie Phillips used the charity’s claims as an example in an article calling for charities to be less political.
Red Cross: 'When we speak out it is because we have evidence'
A spokesman for the charity issued a statement saying that it stands by its original comments.
It said: “The British Red Cross is part of a worldwide humanitarian network with a mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering, wherever it may be found. We are dedicated to ensuring that people in crisis get the help that they need, whether that’s here in the UK or overseas.
“We have over 30 years’ experience running health and social care services in the UK and every year we reach over 80,000 people with home from hospital and support at home services. In addition each year we lend out more than 100,000 mobility aids and train thousands of people in first aid.
“Whenever we speak publicly we do so on the basis of humanitarian concern, on the basis of evidence, including what we are seeing from our work on the ground. We witness first-hand the human cost of a health and social care system under exceptional pressure.
“In recent days, we have reiterated our call on the government to ensure sufficient funding for both health and social care - including for preventative services. We have also advocated for the need for a long term, person-centred solution, developed in partnership across parties, professions and other sectors”.