Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has today apologised after tens of thousands of patients in England have had their surgery cancelled due to a shortage of NHS beds. Unfortunately the Health Secretary has not accepted responsibility for the situation, instead claiming that plans to cancel elective care and lower standards of emergency care somehow equate to being prepared for the predictable winter pressures. As the NHA Party has already detailed, suspending elective care this winter does not solve the underlying shortage of beds and staff. Despite the mass cancellation, dozens of hospitals are at black escalation and unable to guarantee patient safety.
The Health Secretary should be well aware of the reasons why the NHS is struggling to cope with demand, as the NHA's Dr Louise Irvine listed them in her open letter to Mr Hunt shortly after she recorded 12,093 votes against him in his SW Surrey constituency in June. Of particular note is the short-staffing of the NHS, which has only worsened since Hunt went to war with doctors over their contracts, removed bursaries for student nurses, and failed to stand up for EU nurses when they lost job security following the Brexit vote. If that wasn't enough, Mr Hunt and his government were even caught moving money out of doctor and nurse training budgets to create the illusion that more funding was being pumped into the NHS.
Dr Alex Ashman, NHA Party co-leader, said:
"Jeremy Hunt's apology to patients is meaningless and hollow, as he has shown no intention whatsoever of addressing the fundamental causes of the NHS crisis. Staff on the front-line have made it clear that more funding, more beds, and safe staffing are needed in order to provide safe care this winter, and all Mr Hunt can offer is to delay operations and make excuses that nurses take three years to train. Given that Mr Hunt was appointed Health Secretary in September 2012, that's a pathetically poor excuse."
Previous press releases:
- Suspending elective care this winter won’t solve the beds problem
- The NHS: Something Has Got To Give
- The facts don’t lie, and nor do I – An open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP
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The National Health Action (NHA) Party was founded in 2012 to oppose the growing marketisation of the NHS. The NHA Party stood against Jeremy Hunt in his SW Surrey constituency in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, taking 12,093 votes in the latter: a 7.8% swing to NHA.
Dr Ashman is a surgical registrar who joined the NHA in 2012 having seen first hand the effects of marketisation and privatisation on the NHS. He has been on the NHA national executive committee since 2013. He was elected to one of the party co-leader roles in December 2016.