Don’t trust Hunt’s claims about private health insurance


The fear: Many people believe the introduction of private health companies into the NHS is part of a plan that will lead to complete privatisation, with people forced to take out expensive health insurance policies.

Jeremy Hunt has been up to his usual tricks again – misrepresenting statistics in a desperate bid to influence public opinion on his (mis)management of the National Health Service.

Yesterday he decided to raise the issue of private health insurance on Twitter. He tweeted, “Another blow to privatisation myth: 400k fewer taking out private insurance since 2010. Big vote of confidence in NHS,” along with a link to an article in The Times. We shan’t bother with that article; it is behind a paywall and its claim is not disputed in any case.

No, he’s employing a form of argument known as the Excluded Middle – assuming there are only two possible alternatives when in fact there are more.

Just because 400,000 fewer people are taking out private medical insurance, that does not mean they are more confident in a Conservative-run (and part-privatised National Health Service).

For example, as Yr Obdt Srvt tweeted to Mr Hunt: “If this is accurate, perhaps it’s because people can no longer afford it, due to your government’s policies.”

This was a common response. Witness the following, from ‘Flo’: “such is the pull on cost of living probably can’t afford it… Nothing to do with health of NHS.”

And this, from David Price: “Or too poor to take out insurance?”

So – another plot foiled. People aren’t dropping private insurance because they’re happier with the NHS; they simply can’t afford it.


Meanwhile, in the real world, the number of patients turning to A&E has risen 10 times faster under the current Government, according to analysis by the House of Commons Library.

An extra 600,000 patients are visiting A&E departments, in comparison with the time of the last general election. A&E attendances did increase in the four years to 2010 – but by 60,000, one-tenth of the rise in the last four years.

Mr Hunt has already told MPs that his research blamed an ageing population and changing consumer expectations for the rise in attendances, but Labour says the rate of increase cannot be explained so easily and will call on Jeremy Hunt to publish his analysis in full today (January 21).

Figures show that an extra 290,000 patients have turned to A&E because they could not get a GP appointment – including Mr Hunt – and one in four NHS Walk-in Centres have closed; at least an extra 98,000 patients aged over 90 have arrived at A&E via blue light ambulance each year, because they are among the 300,000 people who have had social care support taken away; and NHS 111 is on course to recommend an A&E visit to 50 per cent more patients this year than last.

In the last month, 179,416 patients waited over four hours to be seen in England’s A&Es – more than double the 74,108 patients waiting that long in the same period last year.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham will call on the government to stop the closure of the walk-in centres and improve access to GPs and social care this winter. He will also ask Ministers not to sign the NHS 111 contracts due for renewal until a flawed business model, which replaced experienced nurses with call centre staff, is changed.

“Rather than blaming patients, the time has come for Ministers to take responsibility for the crisis they have created in England’s A&E departments. It is their failure to face up to those real causes that prevents them finding a proper solution,” he is expected to say.

“The situation in A&Es has intensified in recent weeks, but David Cameron’s complacency means he’s putting patients at risk. If he’s going to take the pressure off A&Es, he must … give patients the support they need.”

It’s a forlorn hope and everybody knows it.

After all, Mr Hunt is in cloudcuckooland, making up stories about private insurance.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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8 thoughts on “Don’t trust Hunt’s claims about private health insurance

  1. Neil Mac

    Jeremy Hunt, the man who, when caught embezzling public money as “expenses” came up with the childish excuse that he didn’t understand the rules. He is a thoroughly corrupt and dishonest character.

  2. Andy

    If there were more GP’s then much of the problem would be solved. This is the result of decades of underfunding. The health system we should be trying to aspire to is Sweden’s not America’s.

    We can afford a decent healthcare system funded through progressive taxation, we just have to be prepared to pay those taxes. The rich are not.

  3. casalealex

    In August 2010, David Cameron’s coalition government was planning to scrap the NHS Direct helpline telephone service in favour of the cheaper NHS 111 number. This intention was set out in the white paper, but was portrayed in the media as a ‘leak’ by the Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

    How much cheaper is NHS 111 than NHS Direct? NHS 111 is not working.

    In 2012 I phoned NHS 111 for my bedridden mother aged 92. Was told a ‘clinician’ would contact me shortly. The ‘clinician’ whom I eventually spoke to was told my mother has dementia, he asked, “Has she had it before?”.

    Every couple of hours I phoned to see what was happening.

    Waited 9 hours for a doctor to come to see my elderly mother – 7.30pm till 5.00am. In the end I gave up and told them I would wait until her doctor’s surgery was available, my mother had a bad chest infection!

  4. Mr.Angry

    Hunt displays a close resemblance to a fox and we all know what his own party wants to re-introduce, the sport of the rich. so hopefully his time will come and he shall be shredded by his own ruthless hounds.

  5. concernedkev

    With the comments yesterday by Dr Bruce Keogh that the free NHS concept is unsustainable and this from Hunt they are attempting to start the debate on private health insurance. They have messed up the structures of the NHS with the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and have broken the national links we now have NHS England. With the help of their friends in the media they have created the idea that the NHS is in a mess. There will be more in the lead up to the election. Blaming the increase in elderly patients seeking help at A&E and or bed blocking caused by them forcing cutbacks on local authorities and their provision of care for the elderly.
    Create chaos and offer the solution of private health insurance and make healthcare subject to means testing. Anything is possible with these mindless morons.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes, that occurred to me – the problem with it is that Hunt seemed to be arguing in exactly the opposite direction, against health insurance. It could be simply that he is hoping to create a backlash in favour of it – who knows?

  6. Andy

    Health care is already means tested. If you have insurance you get things done. If you don’t you’re subjected to rationing. The rich with private insurance don’t want to subsidise the poor through higher taxes. If the NHS could be rebuilt with the emphasis on equity and equality there would be little need for private healthcare.

  7. BizzieLizzie

    This government will go down in history as the government who broke up the NHS, and sold it off piece by piece. How proud they must be!

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