On Friday, the cross party NHS Bill returned to the Commons for its second reading (watch the video). The Bill was filibustered...
Whether it's an apology for his repeated misuse of statistics, or for implying that junior doctors don't work weekends, or even just for the unnecessary stress he has caused. That one word would go a long way towards repairing some of the damage that has been done over the last few months. And yet, for Jeremy Hunt, sorry seems to be the hardest word. Jeremy Hunt has two weeks before the next planned period of industrial action. That's two weeks for him to find a solution to this dispute that doesn't involve imposing a contract that the vast majority of junior doctors are opposed to. And while he is at it - an apology wouldn't go amiss too.
Almost 70 years on, the NHS being underfunded, over-stretched and struggling to cope keeps making headlines...
It is hard to see how trust between the medical profession in England and Jeremy Hunt can be regained but it is imperative that he steps back from the imposition of this contract and both sides come back to the negotiating table to achieve a fair deal that is safe for patients and staff.
The system is clearly broken. The current stalemate made me think of the 2007 banking crises, with the current government now propping up an NHS with dwindling resources but peddling the notion that all is well and still trying to expand it. So what's behind the government's intransigence? Well, not surprisingly, it is cut-throat politics at its worst.
Before moving to London in August, I couldn't conceive of anything close to the NHS. A structured, uniform service that trains highly competent doctors while providing healthcare for free. For everyone. Inconceivable. And yet, here I am as a first-year medical student, learning, observing, and participating firsthand in this incredible institution that indiscriminately treats anyone that walks through its doors. Here, when you are ill you are a person who needs healthcare, not a walking insurance card with a set deductible.
The government has announced there will be sweeping changes made to mental health services in the NHS from 2020 onwards, including the establishment of 24 hour community care for those in crisis, and over £1bn invested annually.
So, what's next? We could get all angry; but we have a responsibility as doctors. We have a duty to remain professional, to protect patients, and to save the NHS. We want to prevent damaging, poorly thought out reforms, whilst holding strong to the cornerstone of modern medicine: evidence based practice with patient care as a priority.
Tired doctors make mistakes. It's as simple as that. I ask Hunt, would he truly want an understandably tired doctor operating on a relative of his? If a junior doctor can't look after their own health, how can they look after that of their patients?
It matters to all of us. The cuts to bursaries will significantly impact the future workforce of the NHS, affecting anyone accessing services. That is why I am walking out with the NHS students in Manchester today. Alongside junior doctors, local community activists and students' union reps, I'll be demanding an NHS that values patients as well as the students and staff who keep it running every day.
This week, the junior doctors are going on strike. Again. Most of the people reading this won't know why. All these professionals, who claim to be committed to caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society, why would they refuse to turn up to work? The government has done its best to confuse the issue.
The background to the doctors' strike is the righteous search by the Government to improve on standards of medical cover in hospitals and in GP practices. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary has been charged with introducing '24/7' care into the NHS, to improve services.
I believe the next five years will see the full emergence of a new breed of individual: the Public Service Entrepreneur. These will be people who are passionate about public services but know that there is a more entrepreneurial way to get the social outcomes they are working their socks off to achieve. They don't want to submit to the unhelpful aspects of an often over-bureaucratised system, they want to by-pass it altogether and spend their time finding new ways to solve the problems of their service users.
The NHS has long been used as a political football. And on Thursday we saw the radical idea of a cross party agreement on co-operation for the future direction and funding sources rejected. This was despite almost universal agreement (from the health care professionals cum politicians) that joined up action is needed, and needed now.
Errors and weaknesses in healthcare will inevitably happen, but there can be no reason to tolerate serious incidents on this scale - particularly those involving unexpected deaths and fatal self-harm. In government, I was determined to end the historic injustice against those suffering mental ill health. It is time for people of every stripe to pull together to complete the job.
Simon Stevens has opened a huge can of worms. Let's use the opportunity to create a much better care system that is fair, simple and sustainable and really meets the needs of all older people, now and throughout this century.