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We really need a new title for a Conservative Health Secretary. He’s not responsible for the health service any more – the Health and Social Care Act 2012 put an end to that – so perhaps ‘Health Cheerleader’ would be a better title?
He has certainly been cheerleading for his new part-privatised NHS over the past few days, with a series of tweets under the banner “The NHS as you know it”. But do any of his claims stack up?
First up, on December 28, was his claim that the number of operations performed on behalf of the NHS was up by “one million”, with the number of cancelled operations stable (that means it hasn’t gone up or down). Here are the graphs:
The trouble is, the number of operations clearly hasn’t increased by a million since the Coalition took power. The graph shows Q2 data only. It clearly shows that operations in that quarter stalled for three years at the same level (after a sustained period of improvement under Labour) and the number currently taking place suggests only a continuation of the trend under the previous government.
Figures for Q2 2014 are only 131,389 higher than Q2 2010. Readers are apparently being asked to assume similar or higher figures in order to make Hunt’s “one million” but with a quarterly figure of roughly 132,000 there’s still nearly half a million operations missing.
Next, on January 4, Hunt claimed his NHS had 850,000 more operations every year than under Labour (we’ve already debunked that one), 13,000 more “clinical staff” and was rated “top in world”. Here’s his graph:
Obviously he’s wrong to claim credit for new clinical staff, if he means doctors – all of them would have had to begin training after May 2010 when the Coalition came into office and it takes longer than four-and-a-half years to train a doctor.
Then, if you look at the small print on the graph, its sources relate to information running up to 2013, when Conservative-led changes to the health service had only just begun to be felt.
The comments include one from Labour Left’s Dr Eoin Clarke asking Hunt to explain why complaints about the NHS have increased by 70 per cent since the Tories took over, while patient satisfaction fell by a record amount (from a previous record high under Labour). No answer was forthcoming.
Next, again on January 4, Hunt claimed: “Cancer tests up 51% compared to Lab & 700,000 more treated 4 cancer this parliament”. He was instantly berated by commenters for using “4” instead of “for” (this writer would take issue with “compared to” as well – it’s “compared with”). Verdict: Extra FAIL.
In terms of the information – here’s the graph:
But Eoin Clarke (again) asked why waiting lists are at a six-year high and Cancer Research UK has said funding has been cut by four per cent, in real terms.
And Chris Manners pointed out, “I wasn’t aware sending lots of people for cancer tests was an end in itself.”
Next – January 4 again:
This one is easily debunked – and was, by commenters on Twitter, as follows:
Thig ar Latha: “And it’s about an hour of training then registering yourself online. My staff have done it.”
This is corroborated by Millsy: “Dementia awareness? It’s an hour lecture… That’s not training.”
Ash Sohoye adds an extra layer: “Most of the dementia training you spk of paid for by charitable giving not NHS.”
Gerry suggests an ulterior motive: “And reason you incentivise GP to diagnose early dementia – to ensure patient sells whatever they own to fund their future care. Diagnosed dementia data will be available to private providers to forward plan services in areas of demand to maximise profit. As for the training – a cosmetic exercise to cover your real dementia objective – making profit from vulnerable patients.”
(Finally, there’s this comment from Ermintrude: “And how much social care funding has been pulled to support ppl with dementia which leads to longer hospital stays?” – which is on a tangent to the discussion but relevant to NHS users in Wales, where the Labour Assembly Government regularly receives flak for its choices. With funding from Westminster decreasing by 10 per cent per year, the Assembly has chosen to prioritise social care, in order to reduce the length of hospital stays. This is a long-term plan, however, meaning Tory shills have taken the opportunity to lay into Labour even further by claiming the strategy has been ineffective. Time will tell.)
Next – on January 4:
Yes, cancer survival rates are improving, according to a trend set by the NHS under the previous Labour government. Where is the ‘boost’ effect of support from this Cancer Drugs Fund?
Perhaps it has yet to appear. But then, Jeremy shouldn’t be mentioning it with these results, should he?
And, as Scott Wainwright points out on Twitter, isn’t Hunt [corruptly] selling off cancer treatment to organisations that donate money to the Conservative Party?
Verdict: Stupid FAIL.
Finally – also on January 4: “£2bn of additional funding for the frontline next year, backed by a strong economy.”
Vox Political has already debunked this but it’s worth going over the facts, starting with the claim about this money being “backed by a strong economy”: None of this funding has anything to do with economic growth and it isn’t even new.
This blog quoted BBC correspondent Louise Stewart, who said £1.3 billion “would be found from savings in other government departments.” Not new money, then. “The remaining £700m will come from the existing Department of Health budget and will be put into front line.” Again, not new money. And none of it has been made possible by any economic growth – the same VP article points out that Income Tax receipts are only just around their pre-crash high.
Verdict: Not only a FAIL; also a LIE.
So that’s “The NHS as you know it” under Jeremy Hunt: Statistics abused, problems ignored, ulterior motives and outright lies.
Let’s end on something a little more factual. These images from the Labour Party were all supported by the line: “The NHS as you know it cannot survive five more years of David Cameron”.
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