Election 2015 England

Wells election candidates discuss A&E waiting times

Wells debate
Image caption The election debate was held at Berrow Medical Practice on Wednesday

A&E waiting times and GP shortages have been debated by candidates hoping to become the next MP for Wells.

Five of the eight candidates attended the live debate on BBC Somerset on Wednesday at Berrow Medical Centre in Berrow, north of Burnham-on-Sea.

Candidates said the GP shortage could be tackled by training more GPs, waiving tuition fees and making the career "more attractive".

All of the parties agreed waiting times were a problem.

The NHS is expected to see 95% of A&E patients in four hours. Nationally, this has not been met on a weekly basis since September.

In Somerset, Yeovil District and the Royal United Hospital in Bath have both been on "black alert" this winter with Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton on "red alert" due to the pressure on A and E services.

Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt said the most important thing was to "get people out of acute hospitals as soon as possible and as soon as it is safe, and into community hospitals".

James Heappey for the Conservatives, agreed with Ms Munt, saying patients need to be moved out of wards to convalesce at home and be visited by a carer, or moved into community hospitals.

Chris Inchley from Labour said bed blocking was "a major issue" and said the social care system in Somerset and the health service needed to be "joined up better".

UKIP candidate Helen Hims said her party would bring in "a pilot programme to put GPs on duty in A&E departments seven days a week".

Green candidate Jon Cousins said the issue of how to relieve pressure on A&E was "a huge question" he did not know the answer to, and said anyone who claimed to know the answer would "probably not be telling the truth".

The candidates for the constituency are:

Paul Arnold - Independent

Jon Cousins - Green

Dave Dobbs - The Birthday Party

James Heappey - Conservative

Helen Hims - UKIP

Chris Inchley - Labour

Tessa Munt - Liberal Democrat

Gypsy Watkins - Independent

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