Well there we have it, Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Health Select Committee and Professional (wait for it) Doctor has spoken out today in the Guardian.
"What did she say?" I hear you ask.
Let's backtrack a moment shall we? A few weeks ago the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee interrogated Charlie Massey, Director of strategy for the Department of Health. They elucidated, in such a way I was actually embarrassed for the gentleman, the following facts: (watch it here).
1. The government do not know how many doctors work at the weekend, yet they are saying there are too few, and are designing a new working system despite not having this vital information
2. The government do not know how many doctors they would need for a seven-day NHS
3. The government do not know how much money they would need for a seven-day NHS
The Public Accounts Committee, on hearing these answers, unsurprisingly commented that "it does not give us a great feeling of warmth that you have a grasp" on what is needed for a seven-day NHS service expansion. Another committee member stated that if the DH didn't have this basic information, then they are quite simply 'flying blind'. Well quite, but then, junior doctors have been saying this for some time now haven't we...
Charlie Massey had no answer to this and strung together some incomprehensible noises as a means of response. He looked like he had been viciously attacked by a mongoose. I have sympathy for him, he is after all doing Hunt's bidding, and by default should we say, Cameron? Unless you want to put a stop to this Mr Cameron?
Shortly after this train crash incidentally... I did notice the job of Department of Health Communications Director up for application. I can't imagine it's an easy time in the DOH at the moment.
Then a few days ago we had it, in our hands! The contract; and it did not disappoint. Every bit as bad as we thought it would be. No decent safeguards, ripe to stretch five days worth of doctors over seven making dangerously thin cover, likelihood of exploitation weaved into the contract at every turn, unfair pay arrangements (that's right no pay rise despite what the DOH tell you), and... discriminatory to women and single parents. The document itself actually says in black and white that it IS discriminatory to these subgroups but that 'any indirect adverse effect on women is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.
A gender pay gap; that's what were talking about. They want to introduce a gender pay gap into the biggest UK employer, because they believe their aim of a seven-day NHS is legitimate and that they have reason to believe our contract will deliver that aim. Now lets look back at the pubic accounts committee:
- No idea how many doctors on at weekends
- No idea how much it would cost
- No idea how many doctors they would need...for a seven day NHS.
I don't know about you but I don't think they have a clue whether it is a legitimate aim; if they are assuming our contract is the way to deliver that, they certainly can't claim to have looked into it.
Now, back to Sarah Wollaston...
In the Guardian article she has claimed the following: that Jeremy Hunts tactics have been 'entirely unreasonable' in pursuit of an 'unachievable 7 DAY NHS' and claimed he misrepresented evidence to win public support; he scare-mongered. She also says the junior doctors contract imposition will not solve the problem of higher death rates amongst patients; 'it is perfectly unreasonable to blunder on asserting that the new contract is the answer'.
When your own parties MP, who is a doctor, who is the Chair of your Parliamentary Health Committee says you have mislead, scare mongered, and made it up as you go along. Well Mr Hunt, its time you got on your way, and polished some other .....
Those of us who really do want better seven-day services, and are willing to look at the evidence to see how that can be achieved are ready and willing. What we would like is to be involved in the discussion about the better care, not just pander to a 'seven-day NHS' soundbite. We would like to plan it with you, we would like to gather information and have a really solid plan, one we think is sensible and safe; but not with you imposing an uncosted, untested, unfunded contract Mr Hunt and not with your scaremongering.