Jeremy Hunt is not an honest man. His perfidy goes back a long way. All the way back to getting James Murdoch to agree to support the Conservatives during a visit to New York in 2009; getting the Culture & Media job and then behaving improperly in his Newscorp dealings during the BSkyB bid; and then being promoted to the job of Health Secretary – having five years earlier authored a pamphlet with Daniel Hannan that recommended the demolition of the NHS.
During his business life, he was saved from disaster when handling The British Council Account by his second cousin Virginia Bottomley (from whom he inherited his SW Surrey seat) and pulled several tax avoidance stunts during the patchy past of his company Hotcourses. A major combine was about to pay £17m for Hotcourses two years ago….but then pulled out after seeing the books.
The three following extracts tell you some of the story. The full grisly history can be read at The Slog’s dedicated page Hunt Balls.
Slog prediction confirmed as Watchdog bites Hunt in the bum
Two days ago, I posted that public and media apathy about the fate of free healthcare in the UK was guiding us somnambulantly into the ‘shower’ of privatisation. For some months now I’ve been nailing Jeremy Hunt’s every lachrymose tweet about how much he cares for the NHS, when in truth the little weasel is quietly shifting the funds off-piste and watching its hospitals starve. I predicted Lansley’s reforms would create a mess three years ago, and I predicted that – once hospitals saw how little money they’d got – Trust insolvencies were bound to follow. All of this has come to pass.
Late last night, David Prior, head of the medical Care Quality Commission (CQC) watchdog gave a widely media-circulated speech in which he strongly suggested that primary care (the very GPs who Lansley and Hunt gave most of the NHS budget to) are not looking after senior citizens well enough….and as a result, older people are turning up in A&E with illnesses it is too late to stop. The healthcare system, Prior stated bluntly, is “on the brink of collapse” and his CQC “cannot promise to prevent further scandals like Mid-Staffordshire”.
Mr Prior slammed:
* The 50% of hospitals providing care “which was either poor or not terribly good.
* The 45 hospitals which have had problems which date back five years. (Three of which were, of course, on Camerlot’s watch)
* The decision to allow GPs to opt out of weekend/evening care, saying that they should be available to patients around the clock.
* The Thatcherite ‘internal market’ choice bollocks. He admitted there was no real market in health care, leaving many patients at the mercy of their local hospital, regardless of its quality. “The patient or resident is the weakest voice in the system,” Prior said,“we can talk about competition until the cows come home but if you live in Norwich there is one hospital.”
The wave of common sense above, by the way, comes from the mouth of a former Tory MP. So Hunt can hardly dismiss it as knee-jerk health-sector self-protection. But Prior is broadening the debate out into the social consequences of ignoring the demographic time bomb all governments have kicked down the road for the last thirty years.
“Emergency admissions through A&E are out of control in large parts of the country….that is totally unsustainable,” he asserted, adding ““If we don’t start closing acute beds, the system is going to fall over.”
But what happens then to the patients? Mr Prior is calling for large-scale closures of hospital beds, and a massive diversion of investment monies into community care. Unfortunately, the Lansley-Hunt axis of madness privatised most of the Primary Care sector, which they have handed over to a combo of Dave’s mate Sir Richard Branson and go-getting GP entrepreneurs on £250,000 a year and no after-hours working, thank you very much.
A number of alternative (or side by side) responses to this will now emerge from the DfH and Downing Street:
1. We inherited this mess from Labour
2. We told you the NHS is a disaster and the only way to raise standards is to bring in the private sector….which we are doing
3. It’s a bigger problem than just health and so we need an Enquiry into social care for old people.
But in fact, what this latest embarrassment for the forces of decisive markets and patient choice represents is the logical outcome of a policy designed from Day One to melt down and let in the massive private health lobby at Westminster. Forget politics for a minute – consider events over time:
→ Last November the Royal College of Nursing warned that more than 60,000 health jobs would disappear as a result of the hospital cash starvation engineered from mid 2010.
→ Morale is appallingly low, and as a result NHS nursing is 6,000 understrength. As Lansley handed over to the bizarrely promoted Hunt last year, the cash crisis had removed 28,500 posts in two years.
→ In July 2011, NHS managers bluntly warned the Coalition that the Service “faces a dire financial situation that will risk patient safety and clinical outcomes……NHS managers are also worried that patient access will worsen”. Lansley dismissed it as flannel. As with most things, Lansley was wrong.
→ Last year, Clive Peedell, Chairman of the NHS Consultants’ body, told the media there was “evidence that privatisation is an inevitable consequence of many of the policies contained in the Health and Social Care Bill” – this having been the test-tube baby created by the Conservatives which passed into Law on 27th March 2012.
Note that the Act was ‘Health and Social Care’…but what David Prior now says is that without massive social care investment, the entire system will (as he puts it) “fall over”. So just a year after ‘the most extensive reorganisation of the structure of the National Health Service in England to date’ it’s, um, collapsing.
On introducing the Bill to the Commons last year, Andrew Lacklustre stressed three central principles as the foundation for the new NHS:
- Patients at the centre of the NHS
- Changing the emphasis of measurement to clinical outcomes
- Empowering health professionals, in particular GPs
Well, the man personally appointed by Heezak Hunt to run the CQC says it not only isn’t working very well: it won’t work at all very soon unless something drastic is done. Taking those three ‘principles’ set out by Tweet-freak Imac Hunt’s predecessor, what has predictably happened here is that his ’empowered’ GPs have empowered themselves onto a five-day week with shares in the business, so by the time neglected older patients get to ‘the centre of the NHS’, they’re as good as dead: which is most definitely going to ‘change the emphasis of measurement to clinical outcomes’.
This entire shambles is the result of discredited market theories, sloppy Camerlot thinking, and mega-powerful private health companies combining to produce under-funded anarchy. From the outset, Hunt’s game plan has been to engineer an emergency, and then bring in a privately dominated fire brigade. Keep at it Heezak, you’re almost there mate.
I feel a Huntweet bombardment coming on. Anyone care to join me?
Infecting our blood supply with Bain is a senseless act of murder by fanatics
I think this week was one of those when somehow I felt a step-change in the nature of what the Conservative Party is turning into. The chief symptom of the step-change was the direction, and brazen acceleration in that direction, of the fanatics who now seem to have all the power in the Coalition government here in Britain. But an equally depressing second symptom was the truly pathetic reaction to it from the Opposition.
How easy it was to see how Hunt, Hannan and almost the entire right-wing press played the plight of a Health Service kicked from pillar to post over three decades, and then puffed up with Blairite bollocks: for their own foul advantage. I ran a piece predicting it on the morning of the 14 trusts report, and the entire day was spent watching Stepford Tories performing as if they were my personal puppets, enslaved by their own braindead agenda.
But I can probably best sum up to qualitative nature of the change as follows:
They’re no longer selling the family silver: they’re stealing the citizen’s silver – and fencing it
For foreign readers within Dan Hannan’s fantasy land the Anglosphere, I should explain that ‘fencing’ means ‘illegally pawning’. And let me also make it clear to new readers that I’m not ‘left wing’, but rather a one-nation mutualist who thinks that what’s going on is wrong for two vitally important reasons: decency, and the long-term economic survival of the country I once loved….
Inflexion reflection leads to Hunt dejection
Inflexion Private Equity has abandoned plans to acquire the education course listings business owned by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former adman media director Mike Elms