I dislike Jeremy Hunt for many reasons. I dislike him because of his scandal(s) as culture secretary and his rather close involvement with BSkyB. I dislike him due to the donations his constituency office received from a man with multi-million healthcare investments. I dislike him because of his involvement in the expenses scandal which lead to him having to pay back approximately £10,000 of taxpayers' money, which was interestingly only half of what he owed - after all his net worth is only £4.5million, that £10,000 is more important to him that it is to the rest of the country. I dislike him because he claimed that hooliganism played a part in the death of the 96 at the Hillsborough disaster. I dislike him because he avoids tax in a way that the average man cannot. But more than anything, I dislike Jeremy Hunt because he is an out of touch, arrogant, patronising dickhead.
He recently outlined his vision for the NHS over the next twenty five years. This was followed by a petition calling for him to resign or be removed from his post. If I gave the biggest speech of my career and the next day everyone thought I should quit I would be a bit concerned. But not Jeremy. Because Jeremy knows best. How does he know so much about healthcare I hear you ask...? Well of course he spent years accruing debt whilst training. He studied hard and spent time out on placement. He wrote papers and passed exams. After five years of this when people thought he was at the end of his training he then got going with the actual hard work. He worked 45 hour weeks with on call in addition. He paid hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds out on registration fees, union fees and equipment. He swapped jobs every few months working wherever he was sent in order to get a fully rounded learning experience. Of course during this he took some more exams. Which he paid for himself. After many years of hard work and sacrifice he managed to settle down a bit and took on a permanent position, which of course comes with a high level of accountability but appears to pay well. Although the pay doesn't really take into consideration all the extra hours worked but he enjoys his work and he understands the importance of what he does so you don't tend to hear Jeremy moaning. So yes, that's how Jeremy Hunt became Secretary of State for Health... Oh, no wait a minute. I've got this terribly confused. That isn't how he did it at all. I must be getting him confused with some other people. They probably aren't important. Jeremy got the job as Secretary of State for Health by getting fired as Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. A much more simple route into a job. It certainly saves all that learning business. Knowledge and experience is overrated anyway.
So let's have a look at the speech that caused the NHS to turn on him and start #imatworkjeremy and #weneedtotalkaboutjeremy trending on Twitter. There is of course not enough time in the day to tear it apart completely so I will just pick a few bits of nonsense to focus on. And if there is enough time I may even mention the bit I agree with!
There is a great soundbite in the speech where Jeremy says he is offering "more transparency for fewer targets" but then fails to be transparent enough to name any of the targets he will be getting rid of. Which is interesting as the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition brought in many new targets whilst in power - A&Es for instance were measured against eight quality indicators after the 2010 election rather just one target before. And we all know from the news how A&E departments are coping in the last couple of years. Those new targets must have made it so much easier to care for patients. "Oi, stop wasting time looking after that old lady. We have eight targets to meet now and none of them are about being caring for poorly people. Do something more focused on meeting the targets; how about taking the batteries out of all the clocks? That might help." One of the indicators was looking at limiting the amount of people who left without being seen, regardless of what they attended with. I would have thought it might be fair to say that those people who were able to get up and leave an A&E department because they didn't want to wait probably didn't need to be there in the first place? Apparently not.
Jeremy talks a lot about seven day working in his speech. He seems to think that this is a new concept that nobody has thought about. He must be strolling around feeling rather proud of himself. Well I have news for you Mr Hunt... we already work weekends. Hospitals are open, with doctors and nurses and physiotherapists and radiographers (someone may need to help Mr Gove on this one) and healthcare assistants and cleaners and the list goes on and on. Sure the same service isn't maintained at all times. Yes there is room for improvement, reducing waste and increasing productivity. But talking the NHS down just so you can try and make it look like you have improved it in a couple of years is not on. As for banning consultants opting out of weekend working this really is addressing a problem that isn't there. So far in the 13 trusts who have responded to a freedom of information act request about this it has been shown that just one consultant out of 3755 has opted out. The image of the overpaid, underworked consultant skipping out of the hospital at 5pm on a Friday afternoon is farcical. I imagine Jeremy thinks hospitals are shut for a paid summer break too.
Jeremy likes to talk about people who die after being admitted at a weekend. What he doesn't like to talk about is that funnily enough there are more emergency admissions over a weekend whilst during the week there is a higher rate of routine hospital admissions. So the evidence should actually read "more chance of dying if admitted with more serious condition." He also doesn't mention that once patients in hospital they are actually more likely to die on a weekday than a weekend.
Jeremy's speech says that electronic health records will be seamlessly available in every setting within five years. Great. Except is he aware that hospitals are already choosing and using their own software already. And all of them seem to be different or at least the same program working in a different way. There is no seamless link between hospitals so patients are transferred with reams of print outs and photocopies. In fact in some hospitals the electronic records from one department aren't available in another. Not to mention the hospitals who have almost nothing electronic yet. It's a great idea but the current disjointed system is not at all ready.
Now one of my favourite parts of the speech is where he talks about myNHS. This is the website where anyone can head to in order to find out information about their GP or maybe a local surgeon. It publishes data with little context making it tricky to understand. You can judge a GP practice whilst knowing nothing about the area it covers or judge a surgeon whilst knowing nothing about what is actually involved in the surgery. It's brilliant. Jeremy Hunt seems to think it has been a hit and has boasted 244,000 visits since it opened in September 2014. Now assuming that this truly is 244,000 separate visits rather than 244,000 page views and assuming each visit was by a different person each time (which is obviously unlikely) this would mean that a dramatic 0.49% of the adult population has visited the site. Result. So actually more people have actually been on YouTube to watch Jim Naughtie mis-pronounce Jeremy Hunt's name than have been not the myNHS site. It's worth a watch actually - check it out... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YS5mVoqJpUk
I think we get the picture that Jeremy Hunt has managed to lose the respect and support of the NHS workers in just one speech. I would love to discuss how he doesn't mention moving the NHS towards a private funded model. I would love to go in to some details about the nine words he dedicated to mental health in a speech which was meant to be about human centred care. I would love to discuss the absurdity of ignoring mental health simply because it is a long term problem which can't be measured within one parliament. I would love to talk about how the costs incurred by not addressing mental health problems early are astounding, let alone the cost to these peoples' lives. But perhaps that is for another day.
I almost forgot to mention the bit I agree with. The introduction of a blame free culture to address errors and concerns which models the aviation industry is of course a sensible plan. Without this the likelihood of openness and honesty is minimal and patient care will suffer. So with this Jeremy I am with you and I wish you well. And hopefully one day you may even become open and transparent yourself.