Jeremy Hunt has overseen the worst crisis in the history of the service and demoralised a generation of doctors. Why has she kept him on as health secretary? Continuing a staggering run of a truly awful decisions, Theresa May has decided to leave Jeremy Hunt in post – Opinion by Hannah Jane Parkinson:
There was a brief quarter of an hour on Sunday when I was leaving University College Hospital after visiting a friend, sidestepping doctors checking beepers, nurses checking pulses, Jeremy Hunt was in No 10 as part of Theresa May’s reshuffle, and I was busily checking Twitter and daring to hope.
Surely, the man who is running the Department of Health while the NHS performs at its worst ever levels; whose plans involve closing one in six A&E departments; who has demoralised an entire generation of doctors, would go?
Presumably, Hunt will now get on with the £22bn of cuts levelled at the NHS and enforcing the sustainability and transformation plans. STPs seem like a good idea, and could be – relieving the strain on hospitals and inpatient units by moving care into the community and fostering interaction between services.
The trouble is, as with the seven-day NHS debacle, it’s difficult to do more with the same level of funding, and the public and frontline staff have barely been consulted. The concern is facilities closed down, with people then left to fend for themselves without the required help. Doesn’t sound so great now, does it?
Hunt will dispute that things are going belly-up, of course, as he always does. But I must have spoken to tens, if not a hundred NHS workers or those in the public health sector, and I’ve met only one person who backed him – who I later realised worked for him. It’s surely no coincidence that 12% of the Tory MPs who lost their seats in the early hours of Friday morning were current or former health ministers.
As for my own experiences (with a nod to the current media climate of journalists –sometimes justifiably – seen as out of touch or with little proximity to issues), here are my encounters with the NHS in just the past year: