Iain Duncan Smith was kitted out in doctor’s scrubs and given a glimpse behind the scenes of a busy east London hospital’ emergency department.

Shadowing Dr Imran Zia, clinical director for emergency medicine at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, the Conservative MP was shown first-hand how care is administered to patients.

The MP for Chingford & Woodford Green was part of an evening handover, where doctors and nurses discuss how they will assess and treat all the patients.

He then observed as Dr Zia and his colleagues attending to patients with a range of needs, from fractures and falls to breathing and heart problems, during his visit on Friday, November 9.

Mr Duncan Smith said he found the experience “remarkable” and praised the staff working “long and antisocial hours”.

He said: “While there, I saw serious decisions being made to assist people with often life-threatening conditions, being dealt with in a caring, compassionate, professional and efficient manner.

“We continue to owe a debt of gratitude to all members of staff working in the NHS from medical staff through to ancillary staff who are all part of such an incredible health service and I would like to personally thank all the team at Whipps Cross hospital who I met during my shift.”

Last year, Dr Zia’s department cared for some 170,000 people – an increase of around 10,000 on the year before. It currently sees around 500 patients through its doors every day.

The visit provided a practical insight to how Whipps Cross Hospital is preparing for what is expected to be a busy winter.

Dr Zia said: “We were delighted to host Mr Duncan Smith at our emergency department.

“It was great to show him our work and highlight how, despite being very busy, we were able to prioritise safe and compassionate care for our patients.”

This year, Barts Health NHS Trust has put aside £2.4m to relieve emerging pressure points as the busier months approach.