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Hunt needs to fix the NHS, not blame its staff


Jeremy Hunt has accused GPs of being part of the winter pressure problem, and insisted they open their doors for longer. But is that really the cause of the NHS’s troubles?

The NHS, across the board, is under immense pressure. Hospitals are bulging at the seams, their corridors filled with patients waiting hours to be seen. A&E targets are being breached, and staff are at breaking point, unable to provide the care they want to because the system is broken.

Staff across the NHS have said it and now Simon Stevens has publicly said it.

So what is health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s response? It is to claim GPs are at least partly to blame because they don’t open their practices for long enough, leaving people with no choice but to head to their local A&E if they have a health issue.

“I fear Mr Hunt is looking in the wrong direction”

I won’t pretend that patients making inappropriate visits to their local emergency departments aren’t causing some of the current pressures. And Mr Hunt is right that the problems in hospitals are not entirely the result of what is going on inside those bricks and mortar establishments – he is correct to look beyond that, but I fear he is looking in the wrong direction.

Because the biggest issue is the cuts to social care – cuts made by local government but imposed by central government’s strategy. Patients can’t be discharged because the system outside the hospital doors is crumbling.

“This crisis is across the board”

If only one or two hospitals were in crisis it could be the result of poor management, they may be having problems attracting staff or need a new executive team to lead a new strategy. But this crisis is across the board. Every chief nurse I speak to is mucking in to do shifts this winter, all are terrified that their hospital might be the next scandal to hit the headlines because they are so short-staffed – and running on empty. Well then, Mr Hunt, it’s not their problem – it’s your problem.

Your government’s continued cuts have caused this pressure. And the situation isn’t going to get better without your government changing how it runs and funds the NHS. You can point fingers and play the blame game. You can even stop requiring hospitals to meet the four-hour A&E target, but ultimately, that won’t improve patient care. Only one thing will. More money – in both health and social care.

“Only one thing will improve patient care: more money”

If Mr Hunt wants to find a group to blame for the current crisis in the NHS, he shouldn’t be pointing fingers at GPs, or nurses, or ambulance drivers or any other healthcare professional. He needs to look no further than his own cabinet.


Readers' comments (7)

  • If only anybody in government would actually take notice of this. Why is it that the obvious thing is not seen by those who can actually take steps to do something about it?

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  • Working in General Practice, we offer apts from 7am-6pm 5 full days a week. If we work a Sat/Sun we would have days off in the week so no more appointments would be available.

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  • We all know why Hunt won't admit to that. This is an engineered crisis so they can say the NHS is not working lets privatise!

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  • Must GP surgeries have GP vacancies as they are unable to recruit GP's. One surgery in my area has closed completely, most others long have waiting times because they do not have enough doctors to staff the practice. Teresa May and Jeremy Hunt must be aware of this and if they are not, it shows they are completely out of touch. It would imagine by saying they are going to increase surgery opening hours, they wish to give the impression they are doing something about a crisis,when in reality they are doing nothing. It makes for a good media headline for a few days and then will be quietly forgotten.

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  • If I was as incompetent in my job as Mr Hunt seems to be in his, I would be fired. Why is Teresa May allowing this man to continue to decimate the health service?

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  • Anthony Johnson

    To the previous commentator, because he's not incompetent, his role is to privatise the health service.

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  • My local hospital has several ambulances parked outside with staff doing triage with the ambulance crews on and off the relevant vehicles.
    Once inside staff worked endlessly against all the odds to look after some very unwell people.
    Sudden transfer by special ambulance to a larger regional hospital was needed for my relative
    A docter a nurse and two paramedics travelled with my relative and they also took care off and explained to the family member within the ambulance what was happening and why.
    The regional hospital were amazing staff didnt stop there either
    Breaks were late or not taken at all staff worked flat out.
    Technology has advanced and the equipment that staff have to use means more complex care over all is achieved.
    Domestic staff were helpful porters were wonderful reassuring.
    Winter issues ageing populations Nope its none of this or our exemplary staff its management firms executives but more than that politicians who think humans fit into a box that prevent the NHS running as well as it could if they got out of the way.
    I owe a massive thanks to Morriston Hospital in Swansea and also the heath at Cardiff.
    Politicians moved the Neurosurgery from Swansea to Cardiff Neurosurgeons have kept my family member alive.
    Wake up Mr Hunt and listen to staff who know what they are doing.
    GP's have also been brilliant since all this has occurred.

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