Jeremy Hunt
The Health Secretary made the comments during health questions in the House of CommonsGetty

The Health Secretary has admitted to taking his children to Accident and Emergency (A&E) instead of his local GP.

Jeremy Hunt told MPs, during health questions in the House of Commons, that he took his children to an A&E department on a weekend because he did not want to wait to take them to see a GP.

"I've taken my own children to an A&E department at the weekend precisely because I didn't want to wait until later on to take them to see a GP and I think we have to recognise that society is changing and people don't always know whether the care that they need is urgent or whether it is an emergency, and making GPs available at weekends will relieve a lot of pressure in A&E departments," the Conservative MP said.

This is despite the government's advice to patients that they should avoid casualty but for the most serious cases.

NHS Choices recommends that, generally, people should visit A&E or call 999 for "life-threatening emergencies".

Hunt made the comments in reply to a question from fellow Conservative Lorraine Fullbrook, who asked if the health secretary supported the flexibility offered by locally led initiatives by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to see GPs in the evenings and at weekends.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw criticised Hunt over the admission and claimed the health secretary was "clueless".

"Hunt admits he had to take his own children to A&E because he couldn't get a GP appointment after his government scrapped GP access targets," the Labour politician said.

"Hunt, from his Commons 'answer', is clueless and as in denial as [David] Cameron was over depth of financial crisis, cuts and rationing facing Devon."

The comments come after the medical director of NHS England urged people to go to pharmacies instead of casualty if they felt unwell this winter.

"In other parts of Europe pharmacies are very well used," Professor Bruce Keogh said.

"Our GPs, frankly, during the winter feel really under strain with people coming in with coughs and colds. A lot of that strain could be relieved if people use pharmacies more."