Tuesday 10 January 2017

Jeremy Hunt's solution to the NHS crisis: Scrap the 4 hour A&E pledge!

More than 2 million people waited more than four hours to be seen at Accident and Emergency departments in 2015/2016 and the number of people waiting more than twelve hours has more than doubled since 2013/14 to 185,017.

After spending the weekend in hiding after the appalling deaths at the Worcestershire Royal A&E Jeremy Hunt told parliament that he wants to condemn millions of patients to indefinite A&E waits by scrapping the 4 hour A&E target for all but the most "urgent" of emergency cases.

One of the main problems with this attempt to row back on one of the most important guarantees of NHS patient care is how the term "urgent" is defined. Anyone with the remotest understanding of the health service will know that the true urgency of cases can't be determined by a quick glance by a receptionist. The whole point of having a 4 hour commitment is so the seriousness of people's injuries/illnesses can be assessed by a qualified doctor in a timely manner.

Jeremy Hunt's solution to the appalling deterioration of the NHS under his watch isn't to abandon the plan to inflict £22 billion in ideologically driven cuts to NHS services. Nor is it to demand that the social care budget is properly funded in order to reduce the problem of NHS hospitals and beds being clogged up with elderly patients with nowhere else to go. His "solution" is to scrap the patient care statistics because they are making him look bad!

Aside from scrapping the waiting time targets Hunt actually tried to blame the NHS crisis on patients turning up at A&E units unnecessarily, which displays a staggering degree of hypocrisy given that in November 2014 he openly admitted that he took his own kids to an A&E department for non-emergency reasons instead of waiting for a GP appointment. To damn other people as "selfish" and "irresponsible" for clogging up A&E departments when he himself did exactly that just a few years ago required an extraordinary amount of brass neck.

This isn't the first time that Jeremy hunt and the Tories have scrapped official targets and statistics behind a smokescreen of blame-deflecting political propaganda. In 2013 there was an alarming 23,400 spike in the official death rate, with most of the additional deaths amongst the over-80s. Instead of launching an official investigation into this significant leap in the death rate Jeremy Hunt and the Tories just decided to scrap the official death rate statistics!

Another example that springs to mind is the Tory attitude to child poverty. In 2015 the Tories decided to scrap the government target to reduce child poverty just before they introduced another round of severe cuts to the Tax Credits that help keep children in working families out of poverty. In 2016 Theresa may went one step further with her decision to scrap the entire child poverty unit!

Just imagine the disgusting self-serving mentality amongst senior Tories that allows them to think that the best way to deal with missed targets and damning data is simply to scrap the targets and abandon the collection of official statistics.

There's no other profession in the UK where such cynical and self-serving attitudes to problematic data would be tolerated. Anyone who has worked in a real job knows that either measures are taken to actually rectify the situation, or resignations/sackings are on the cards. You can't just get away by deleting the problematic data and hoping the problem goes away.

Yet somehow the Tories get away with simply scrapping the targets they're failing to meet and abandoning the collection of data that exposes their failings than turning the rhetoric of blame onto anyone but themselves.

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