The Welsh NHS has for weeks been attacked in the Commons by Cameron and Hunt being described as failing and a shambles. Now, on a weekend when the independent Nuffield Trust reported that NHS Wales compares well with the other UK health systems, Cameron compounded the crime by telling the Tory Conference that the Welsh border separated life and death. Both should apologise to the House for misleading it and correct the record. Cameron should apologise to Wales for the “line of death” slur. Continue reading
Section 119 of the Care Bill currently going through Parliament is a lot more insidious than has been realised. It allows trust special administrators (TSAs) to close down any hospital or A&E with just 40 days’ notice. The doctors and consultants are rightly up in arms about it because, contrary to all the assurances given when the Lansley bill was forced through the Commons in 2012, the NHS will be able to be reconfigured without any agreement from the new GP commissioners who are supposed to be running the service, and without any proper consultation with patients and the public. Continue reading
Noting where unusually high mortality rates have occurred in certain hospitals is clearly very important, but it is equally important to discover what were the causes of those deaths. That may well tell a very different tale from the commonly assumed one. Basildon & Thurrock Hospital, one of the 14 trusts targeted by Hunt today in the Commons, illustrates this well.
According to the summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI) there were 112 excess deaths there last year, but they were in non-elective admissions, i.e. emergency cases. But they were not in trauma or A&E or heart surgery, they were in general, palliative and geriatric medicine. That indicates that the main problem was among the elderly, not among women giving birth for example. It is still a problem to be investigated, but not one of the kind that Hunt sought to present. He has a different agenda. Continue reading
As the Tories assemble today for their conference, in substantial disarray of their own making, nowhere have they screwed up so conclusively as in their policies towards women. The new Tory Minister for Women, Maria Miller, has just told us she’s keen to lower the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks. At least that’s better than Jeremy Hunt, the new Tory Minister for Health, who wants to halve it to 12 weeks. Continue reading
On the face of it the evidence for referring Hunt to the independent adviser on the Ministerial code seems overwhelming. Hunt has always maintained his role was “quasi-judicial”, i.e. he should act like a judge in keeping his distance from all interested parties and certainly not showing favour to one of them. Yet, almost incredibly, there were 191 phone calls, 158 emails and 799 texts between DCMS (more than nine-tenths of them with Adam Smith, Hunt’s special adviser) and Frederic Michel, Murdoch’s main lobbyist. Continue reading