South Hams MP Dr Sarah Wollaston has hit out at the “disingenuous” use of statistics when discussing bed occupancy levels in the NHS.

Dr Wollaston said: “At recent Health [Questions], I raised my concern about bed occupancy levels. Minister quoted the fig for Christmas Eve. Table below shows why that is so disingenuous. Unless the scale of the problem is understood and openly discussed, we won’t get progress on the solutions."Mr Dunne, the former Minister of State at the Department of Health, said: " Christmas Eve, the bed occupancy rate was 84.2 per cent, below the target of 85 per cent that we set going into this winter period."The table Dr Wollaston tweeted showed the bed occupancy of hospitals across the country over six weeks in November and December.

The table showed that while occupancy fell to its lowest level of 84.2 per cent on Christmas Eve, the average occupancy from November 20 to December 31 was 93.5 per cent and the only days it dipped below 90 per cent was December 22, 23, 24, 25.

The highest occupancy was 95.7 per cent on December 13, with 16 days out of 42 having bed occupancy of above 95 per cent.

The picture is similar in our local hospitals. Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust released their bed occupancy figures for November and December. Over those two months, the average bed occupancy for Torbay Hospital was 93.5 per cent. With the lowest being 71 per cent on Christmas Day, and the highest being 95 per cent on November 6 and 28. In Derriford between November 20 and December 31, the average bed occupancy was 95.4 per cent, with the highest being 99 per cent on December 4, and the lowest being 80 per cent on Christmas Eve.Mr Dunne was not the only MP to use the stats. In a Commons debate about the NHS Winter Crisis, Jeremy Hunt MP said that the Government had “put £1billion into the social care system” and challenged the shadow Health Secretary who told The Independent “It is completely unacceptable that the 85 per cent bed occupancy target…has been missed” by saying “What was bed occupancy on Christmas eve? It was 84.2 per cent, so this had a real impact.”

Dr Wollaston spoke to us on Friday, saying: "I am concerned about the reduction in bed numbers across the NHS and in the community and raised the issue of unsustainably high bed occupancy levels at Health Questions in the House of Commons. "The minister at the time replied quoting the figure for Christmas Eve. I did not believe that this reflected the background occupancy levels and asked the House of Commons Library for the figures over a longer timescale. "The table speaks for itself in confirming the true extent of this problem and is based on data collected and reported by NHS England in its Winter daily situation reports."My view is that ministers need to be clearer in discussing the scale of the underlying challenges if we are going to see the government agree to tackle tough discussions about funding. "I believe we need to see a funding review that takes a whole system approach covering the NHS, social care and public health. It needs to address both the immediate need for more funding and take a long view in explaining the scale of rising demand, what that will cost. "I think that the options for funding need to be set out for the public, including the consequences of not doing so, and that this needs to be spread fairly across the generations rather than falling solely on working age employed adults. I support the call for National Insurance to be renamed and function as an hypothecated health and care tax. "That said, I do not think that it would be fair for those already paying back student loans to have to pay more whilst wealthy older people in retirement were exempt. "The reality is that any change that sees people paying more tends to get blocked in a hung Parliament and that is why political parties need to be prepared to work together on this important issue. "I was one of 90 backbench MPs who wrote to the PM before Christmas urging her to look at cross party working to make sure that our NHS, care and public health systems are properly resourced and I will continue to push for this to happen."An earlier version of this article said that Dr Wollaston was commenting on an answer given by Jeremy Hunt MP. This was a mistake. Although both Mr Hunt and Mr Dunne used the figure for Christmas Eve, Dr Wollaston's question was answered by Mr Dunne. We apologise for any confusion.