THERESA May has accused Jeremy Corbyn of giving the impression that the NHS is failing everybody amid claims she was "too weak" to sack Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary.

During the first Prime Minister Questions of 2018, she reiterated her apology to patients affected by winter pressures, including to the thousands who had seen their operations cancelled, as she defended the NHS preparations.

But the Labour leader said Mrs May had recognised there was a "crisis" in the NHS because she initially wanted to sack Mr Hunt, who ultimately survived Monday’s Cabinet reshuffle and saw social care added to his portfolio.

As the NHS dominated the pair's exchanges at question-time, Mr Corbyn cited reports that nurses were "spending their entire shift treating people in car parks" due to backed-up ambulances.

"We know the Prime Minister recognises there's a crisis in our NHS because she wanted to sack the Health Secretary last week but was too weak to do it.

"And if the NHS is so well-resourced and so well-prepared, why was a decision taken last week to cancel the operations of 55,000 patients during the month of January?"

Labour frontbenchers shouted "apologise" at Mrs May, who said she had already made clear her apology during PMQs.

She said: "We will make sure those operations are reinstated as soon as possible. We are putting record funding into the NHS and record funding into mental health."

Mr Corbyn raised the case of an 82-year-old woman who spent 13 hours on a trolley in a corridor, noting she arrived at hospital three hours after first dialling 999.

He said this is not an "isolated" case, adding: "Does the Prime Minister really believe the NHS is better prepared than ever for the crisis it's now going through?"

Mrs May offered to examine the case, adding: "Week in and week out, in the run-up to Christmas and now today, what he is doing is giving the impression of a National Health Service that is failing everybody that goes to use the NHS.

"The reality in our NHS is that we are seeing 2.9 million more people now going to accident and emergency, over 2 million more operations taking place each year.

"Our National Health Service is something we should be proud of and that's why it's a first-class National Health Service."

Justine Greening appeared on the Tory backbench, sitting next to Brexit rebel leader Dominic Grieve, after she quit the Cabinet following a refusal to be switched from the role of Education Secretary to heading the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mr Corbyn attempted to capitalise further on the misfired reshuffle, adding: "The Prime Minister needs to understand that it's her policies that are pushing our NHS into crisis.

"The Health Secretary, during his occupation of her office to keep his job, said he won't abandon the ship. Isn't that an admission that, under his captaincy, the ship is indeed sinking?"

Mrs May replied by defending the Government's funding plans for the NHS.

Earlier in PMQs, she also reacted angrily to suggestions that the private sector's role in the NHS had increased under the Conservatives.

She told MPs: "Under which government was it that private access and use of the private sector in the health sector increased?"

When Labour MPs shouted it was under the Conservatives, Mrs May shouted: "No, it wasn't. No."

Speaker John Bercow intervened to calm Labour's Jon Ashworth, noting that the Shadow Health Secretary was "gesticulating in a very eccentric fashion".

Later in the session Tory former minister Andrew Murrison pressed the PM to consider setting up a royal commission to look at the future of health and social care.

He said: "When the UK is in the bottom third of countries for heart attack deaths, when we have significantly worse survival for stroke than France and Germany, and when our closest match for cancer survival is Chile and Poland, is it not time to act on calls from across this House - and backed this week by the Centre for Policy Studies - to establish a royal commission on health and social care, in this, the 70th anniversary year of our most cherished national institution?"

Mrs May did not agree with her colleague’s request and said independent research showed the NHS was the best healthcare system in the world, adding: "But of course we need to look at what more we can do.

"That's why we're putting more funding in, that's why we're looking at the better integration of health and social care on the ground.

"It's about making sure we're making a change now and doing that integration now, because that's when it's going to make a difference to people."