Jeremy Hunt’s latest claim about Accident & Emergency is just the latest vile lie

The health secretary told the Commons that up to 30% of people attending A&E were not urgent cases. This is probably true – but hasn’t he closed down the other services that could provide care for those people? [Image: Peter Byrne/PA.]

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, must really think we are all stupid. His latest claim relies on it.

He’s saying that the four-hour target for patients to be treated at hospital Accident & Emergency departments may be relaxed for people with less serious health issues.

He wants us to believe that the most seriously-ill patients will therefore be seen more quickly, and are more likely to be saved, because of this change – one that we are meant to believe is new.

But it isn’t new.

People with less serious issues already have no chance of being seen within the four-hour target – for a very obvious reason: Triage.

Every patient admitted to A&E is automatically assessed by medical or nursing staff and assigned a category that determines their priority for treatment and their waiting time.

These run from “Immediate Resuscitation”, for patients whose lives are in immediate danger, down to “Non Urgent”, for those whose conditions are not true accidents or emergencies.

The current demand means that those with less serious problems will already have to wait longer than four hours for treatment in hospitals that are overstretched.

So Mr Hunt is proposing something that is already happening. He is lying to us that it is new, and he is lying to us because he wants us to believe that our friends and relatives may be safer as a result.

No patient will be safer as a result of Mr Hunt’s comment.

And no patient, who has died as a result of services being overstretched, would have lived if his proposal had been put into operation – because it is the current situation, in fact if not by design.

Nothing he has said addresses the causes of the current situation.

For example, This Writer heard today that the Sustainability and Transformation Plan affecting Worcestershire Royal Hospital – where three preventable deaths took place last week – involved the closure of A&E at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, with patients being transferred to WRH. This would clearly make problems at WRH much worse.

My understanding is that the relevant health authorities have denied the claim – but the STP does not appear to be available for the public to see.

Also: It has been pointed out that many patients should not attend A&E as their injuries/conditions do not warrant it. Where else are they to go, though?

GP practices are already overstretched, with some people having to wait weeks for appointments to see their doctors. And funding for pharmacies is being cut, meaning people cannot even see a pharmacist for help with more simple matters.

These problems were all planned by Mr Hunt and the Conservative Party. They are Tory creations.

The humanitarian crisis in the English NHS is entirely their fault.

And all he can do is mouth meaningless suggestions.

Labour is right to say Mr Hunt is “watering down” the four-hour target.

It is a typical Tory strategy: First they claim that more can be done with less money, and then – when they are shown practical proof that this is not true – they re-write and downgrade the target.

The simple fact is that target-driven A&E departments will always fail at some point. Resource-starved A&E departments will often fail.

The answer is to ensure that proper resources are available and that non-emergency patients are diverted to the appropriate services – which must also be properly funded and resourced.

But Mr Hunt won’t do that. As This Site has already pointed out, he has given those resources to private ‘health’ firms as profits for their shareholders.

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11 thoughts on “Jeremy Hunt’s latest claim about Accident & Emergency is just the latest vile lie

  1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421)

    It always strikes me the way the media portray the crisis in the NHS as a recent problem when it has been a coordinated plan over many decades, and recently accelerated by huge cuts in it’s funding.

    http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/national/article/A-Es-and-hospitals-face-closure-in-NHS-funding-crisis-d338d133-025f-4ccd-8222-4ee1899c7e4d-ds

    Noam Chomsky said in answer to a question about how Neo-Liberal governments privatise public services:

    “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”
    Noam Chomsky, 

    This has been the well worn path that Neo-Liberal governments have trodden since 1970, and it all emanates from the US where huge health companies are waiting in the wings to take over. Simon Stevens the head of NHS England first introduced the market into the NHS under New Labour, then went to the American Health Company, United Health, and now is back working for the Tories at NHS England.

    It really isn’t rocket science to figure out where it’s all heading, time people woke up in this country, If Deutsche Bahn can run our railways, why can’t we have our own British Rail back?…….. Because that would prove that Private Enterprise is just a myth and everything Neo-Liberal politicians stand for.

  2. Barry Davies

    Wheras everyone wants to be seen as soon as is possible when they go to A/E we can only hope the “watering down” of the Target actually has the positive effect of stopping Hospitals getting fined for breaching it, which remove finances and made it even more likely a hospital would breach the target losing ever more monies.

  3. PJB

    He could not hide the lies on telly this morning, he could not look at the camera properly or the interviewer, looked like a sorry stupid spoilt brat. Lol

  4. CMG

    The Worcester STP is out there, cunningly hidden behind a jaunty font and the euphemism ‘Your Conversation’ also used by councils for budget simulators. Below is a Guardian comment of what I got from it with the link:

    Fun facts in Worcester – the brains behind the local NHS Sustainability Transformation Plan reckon there are too many options and too much duplication in acute care. They propose to close everything execept the three A & E units, looking at closing every Minor Injury Unit and Walk-in Centre to be replaced by three (privately run? They don’t say but we can guess)  Urgent Care Centres. They also propose to remove 171 beds across Hereford and Worcester, about one in eight. We haven’t reached rock bottom yet…

    The plan is at http://www.hacw.nhs.uk/yourconversation/ , click ‘Our Plan’, the urgent care section starts on page 53.

    1. Dez

      On Tuesdays todays Breakfast show a NHS clone of that Hunt appeared repeating his masters words that all was well and just a few pockets of problems and of course all was safe in their hands. What disturbed me was that this lacklustre suits title was head of “Providers”. Anyone familiar with outsourcing knows that the word
      provider is nearly always associated with contractors and outsourcing and that such folk are prone to bull up their state of affairs even if was in a state of collapse. Sounds like NHS have already decided that the privatised cunning plan is so well advanced they can now create a Providers slot in their leadership. I would much rather heard from someone on the real front line not another overpaid office suit repeating that pompous Hunts lying mantra.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Yes, I’ve used some of his words in a follow-up article. He seems a cheerleader for privatisation.

  5. jeffrey davies

    getting ready for that sell off showing us he tried crocadile tears oh dear a tory tell the truth

  6. Dez

    Today that Hunt only sent one of his suits on again to the BBC morning program to tell the masses that again everything was ok and just a few rogue elements who could not cope. Interesting that this pompous NHS suit title was Director of Providers.. Providers? It makes one wonder if Providers means that the NHS is already
    running their Privatised agenda and this lacklustre answer to our prayers heads up this crock of hybrid poo that has been created. I drew no comfort from his shallow words carefully crafted by that Hunt himself and if this guy represents the best that is in charge on the bridge……man the lifeboats..

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