Boris Johnson has conceded NHS waiting times are “unacceptable” in the face of demands from Jeremy Corbyn for action to help patients.
The British Prime Minister outlined spending pledges made by his government before insisting: “We will get those waiting lists down.”
His remarks came after Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested the four-hour A&E waiting time target could be scrapped after the NHS in England registered its worst figure on record.
Official data showed only 81.4% of emergency patients were seen within four hours in November.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, UK Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: “The number of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E is now at its highest on record for the second month in a row.
“We’ve had months of promises. People need action.
“There probably isn’t a family in the United Kingdom which hadn’t been affected in some way by cancer.
“Yet last year we saw one in four patients waiting more than two months for the start of their cancer treatment.
“How many more patients will face what are life-threatening delays because our NHS is understaffed and underfunded?”
Mr Johnson replied: “As (Mr Corbyn) knows, there is a massive demand on the NHS, which he also knows is doing a fantastic job, particularly in oncology where tremendous progress has been made.
“He’s right to signal the delays that people are facing and they are indeed unacceptable, and that is why we’re investing in 50,000 more nurses, that’s why we’re investing in 6,000 more GPs and that is why this Government is investing record sums in the NHS.
“We will get those waiting lists down.”
Mr Corbyn later asked “what’s the hold up” when it came to Mr Johnson revealing social care reform plans.
Mr Johnson replied: “We do intend to begin with cross-party talks to build a consensus and I think there’s a growing consensus in this country on the need to tackle the issue of social care so everybody has dignity and security in their old age, nobody has to sell their home to pay for the cost of their care.
“We can do it and we will do it, with the help and co-operation of the Labour Party and other parties in this House, we will go ahead with a fantastic plan for social care.”
Mr Corbyn told Mr Johnson to “fund it properly” when it comes to the NHS, concluding: “The Prime Minister has said many times he’s going to put this NHS funding issue into law but all this gimmick means is even longer waiting lists, more delays for cancer patients and more A&E departments bursting at the seams while patients continue to suffer while he continues to provide excuses.
“If he’s really committed to fixing the crisis his Government has created over the last decade, he should end the empty rhetoric and back our proposals to give the NHS the funding it needs rather than putting into law an insufficiency of funding.”
Mr Johnson joked Mr Corbyn was “still fighting on the manifesto” submitted to the public at the last election.
He noted: “I think it was pretty clear what they thought of the credibility of the promises that he made – but it was also clear what they thought of what we’re going to do as they see we are the party of the NHS.”