Posted by on January 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Professor Bradshaw

Professor of Health Policy Peter Bradshaw comments on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt having to apologise as A&Es nationally struggle to cope.

“It is with debilitating repetition that our news over the last three years has reported an impending apocalypse in the NHS. But the day is nigh and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has responded with a fawning apology, something reinforced by equally false piety from Mrs May who also says ‘sorry’ (Therien & Triggle, 2018).

Informed opinion has warned long and loud that the lowest underinvestment in NHS history would mean inevitably the proverbial solids would hit the fan… and they now have! –resulting in all elective treatments being cancelled until mid-January and possibly until the end of the month.

Mr Hunt repeatedly said the commentators of doom were being alarmist, quoting recent findings of the Commonwealth Fund international analysis of healthcare systems that shows the NHS is the best, safest and most affordable in the world (Campbell, 2017).

But wherein lies the immediate problem? – well, it’s at the front door – because one in ten A&E departments declared a ‘major incident’ this week – meaning they are overwhelmed by demand and unable to see the sickest attendees within a safe timescale. Barometers of imminent crisis have thus been plain through:

  • Protracted GPs closures over Christmas
  • Overwhelming numbers ringing the 111 helpline – that advises A&E attendance when it is inevitably clueless
  • Massive evidence throughout December of a virulent influenzal epidemic inflicting particularly the elderly
  • More than one in eight patients rushed to hospital in an ambulance facing a delay of more than 30 minutes to cross the A&E threshold (Triggle & Calver, 2018)

The NHS operates on three cardinal principals comprising equity that treats us fairly at the point of need; effectiveness, that provides evidence-based therapies that are likely to work best; and efficiency through treatment that confer best value for taxpayer’s money. Although keeping these three in equilibrium is a challenge to any government, this administration, as the prophets of doom foretold, has wilfully compromised equity and efficiency on the alter effectiveness. Margaret Thatcher said in1989 she wanted the NHS squeezing, ‘until the pips squeak’ – Mrs May has now made them howl leading to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine claiming A&E departments are so crammed that staff cannot move between patients and provide the basic level of care – thereby putting patients at risk. Ministers have practiced ostrich politics on this one since 2010, displaying beautiful indifference to the warnings of the front-line and often with bludgeoning rudeness and contempt for any who disagree. They are currently paving the way nicely for Mr Corbyn. Yet please spare a thought for Mr Hunt – who surely is experiencing that same unbridled joy as the Captain of the Titanic when he saw the iceberg.”

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