Jeremy Hunt has been accused of ignoring severe NHS staff shortages for many years and firing medics from the profession while the health secretary after he intervened this week to warn of a workers ’crisis.
Promoting his new book, Zero: Eliminating Unnecessary Death in a Post-Pandemic NHS, Hunt said tackling “chronic failure to plan for workers” was the most important task in relieving pressure on frontline services. Now the chairman of the health and social care committee, he says the situation is “serious, very serious”, with doctors and nurses “running because of the intensity of the work”.
But his comments drew sharp criticism from health care staff, who said Hunt – the longest -serving health secretary in the NHS’s 74 -year history – had failed to do enough. action to increase recruitment while in long-term employment between 2012 and 2018. Critics, however, said his employment had seen health workers leave the NHS for jobs abroad or new careers outside of medicine. There are now 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, and the waiting list for treatment has risen to 6.4 million.
“There has been an avalanche of pressure that is lowering the NHS. But for many years Jeremy Hunt and other ministers have ignored the staff crisis,” said Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, the union’s largest health in the UK. ”The pandemic exacerbated the consequences of that failure. Experienced employees leave at faster rates than newly recruited ones.
“Hunt has recently been an articulate analyst on current issues, particularly labor shortages, but it’s not out of the blue,” said Dr Colin Hutchinson, the chair of Doctors for the NHS. “By the time he makes the biggest impact, his response has been silenced. We have to ask: is the service people receive from the NHS better, or worse, at the end of his term in office? At that time it is most important, he is found to be deficient. ”
In an excerpt from his book, published in the Sunday Times, Hunt described sitting at the top of a “rogue system” as health secretary, and criticized a “culture of blame” in the NHS that made it so that “it’s incredibly difficult for doctors, nurses and nurses to say openly when things are going to happen.”
Dr Jenny Vaughan, chair of the Doctors’ Association UK, said Hunt was “right” that the lack of “complete commitment” to transparency and honesty in healthcare “clearly provided the context for avoidance. deaths and mistakes ”. However, he raised questions about his failure to address the staff level as health secretary and said he was “pleased” that he now accepted that “it should be an absolute priority”.
He said: “Hunt says doctors and nurses are tired and that the institution is crying out for change. Maybe he will try harder to improve what he knows is seriously low-level staff at when he was in charge and managed the strike of junior doctors in a more compassionate way? His role was marked by many of them being frustrated with the health service and leaving other countries or changing careers.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Hunt called every NHS patient with access to their own named GP. Responding to his comments, Prof Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said there were “many” advantages to continuing care, but the “severe workload and forcing workers “makes it” increased difficulty in delivery, especially. when the political focus is always primarily on quick access “.
In 2015, Hunt promised to hire 5,000 more GPs over five years-but the total has decreased instead of increased. In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives promised to recruit 6,000 more GPs by 2024, but Sajid Javid admitted in November that they could not hit their target.
“Ultimately, the long-term solution that is really needed is an more workforce with more GPs, more practice team members, and more time with our patients so we can provide better care. access and continue to care for patients, ”Marshall said. “The government has promised 6,000 more GPs and 26,000 more practice team members by 2024, and they have to take all the stops to make it happen.”
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Hunt refused to restrain himself on the upcoming Tory leadership contest, but said it was not the right time. When asked if Boris Johnson is the right person to lead the Conservative party in the next election, Jeremy Hunt said he “hopes”.