He said: “It is incredibly frustrating for me. I am doing this job because I want NHS care to be the safest and best in the world. That kind of care is completely unacceptable. No-one would want it for members of their own family.”
He said there were “no excuses” for some of the stories that have emerged this week, including the case of Iris Sibley, who has been left stranded in Bristol Royal Infirmary for more than six months because a nursing home place could not be found for her.
“It is terrible for Mrs Sibley but it is also very bad for the NHS,” Mr Hunt said.
He went on to say it was “completely unacceptable” – the third time he used the phrase when pressed by the BBC about some of the problems that have come to light.
Mr Hunt said: “We are trying very hard to sort out these problems.”
But he admitted progress had been “disappointingly slow” in some areas, including integrating the NHS with council-run care services, such as care homes and home help.
However, he added: “Where I disagree with some of your coverage is the idea this is a problem unique to the NHS.”
He claimed all health systems were “grappling” with similar problems because of the ageing population. “There’s no silver bullet,” he added.
He also took issue with suggestions that it was all about money, pointing out France and Germany, who both spend more than the UK on health, did not do as well as the NHS on 14 out of 35 measures.
He said France had struggled this winter with flu, while some German cities had been forced to close their A&Es on “certain nights”.
Mr Hunt said in England extra money was being put in – nearly £4bn this year, which he pointed out was the equivalent to the whole budget of the fire service.
While this represents an increase in the front-line budget of nearly 4% this year, since 2010 the NHS has had much less generous rises than it has traditionally enjoyed. That trend is forecast to continue until 2020.
He said tackling social care problems – a major reason why so many frail patients cannot be discharged from hospital – was on the government’s agenda.
“The prime minister has been very clear. We recognise the pressure’s there. We recognise there is a problem about the sustainability of the social care system.
“That has to be addressed and we are going to do that.”
Mr Hunt also said there were “positive” things happening in the health service as well as negative, highlighting improvements in cancer survival and the investment being made in general practice.
However, Sir Robert Francis said the financial pressures on the NHS – together with the high levels of demand – had created an environment in which a care scandal equal to Mid Staffordshire was “inevitable”.