Jeremy Hunt and Nye Bevan both clashed with doctors - but that's all they have in common

01 Sep 2016
Many of us nearly choked on our cornflakes on Thursday morning. The shock was caused hearing the hapless Tory Party Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the radio, grandly comparing himself to Nye Bevan the Labour Party giant and architect of the NHS. Both men had clashes with doctors. But there the resemblance ends. Bevan, was one of the greatest politicians of his generation. He challenged the doctors because he was trying to found a universal health service free at the point of use. He believed "No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack
of means".
By contrast Hunt is trying to dismantle our Health Service and open the door to more private sector involvement. By virtually every measure NHS performance is deteriorating and waiting lists are spiralling. Hospital Trusts are racking up enormous debts because they are being asked to do more with less and nationally the NHS is wasting millions on the Private Finance Initiative. Targets for ambulance waiting times, A&E consultations, GP access and cancer referral times are all being missed.
Anyone who uses the NHS knows that it's greatest strength is the care and dedication of the staff. But Hunt chooses to attack junior doctors relentlessly and mendaciously. And, if he is successful in imposing an unfair 7 day a week contract on doctors against their will, there is little doubt that he will try the same with all levels of health service workers.
Hunt continues to insist that he wants to impose the contract to create a 7 day a week NHS. But he knows that doctors already work week-ends. And he knows, because his own officials have told him, that
the enhanced week-end service he talks about is not possible. There isn't the money and there aren't the staff. The contrast between Bevan and Hunt could not be greater. One built a health service which  was the envy of the world. Hunt is trying to take it apart brick by brick.

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