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The culprit: Philip Dunne thinks pressures on the NHS can be handled, as long as patients have a chair to sit on.

If Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle was an attempt to divert attention away from the winter crisis that has already killed many National Health Service patients, it has failed…

… mostly because one of her health ministers managed to make a career-defining mistake during a Parliamentary debate on the situation, while Mrs May was discussing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s Cabinet position with him in 10 Downing Street.

For those of you who are unaware of the situation (or at least, of what the Tories are saying about it), Mrs May has said the NHS has been better-prepared for what she called “winter pressures” (she doesn’t accept that there is a crisis) than ever before.

Here’s what Accident and Emergency doctor Adrian Harrop has to say about that (hint: he disagrees profoundly):

Still not convinced? Watch this:

That’s what it looks like on the ground. Here’s another doctor – Dagan Lonsdale – with the facts and figures – and a message about Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt:

The message was so strong that Ralf Little, who came under fire from Mr Hunt for suggesting that the Health Secretary had been lying to the British public, satirised himself – and landed another blow on Mr Hunt – with the following:

Meanwhile, Theresa May had been trying to calm concerns about overcrowding in hospitals. Faced with claims that some had no beds free at all, she said that delayed discharges – where elderly people (for example) were being kept in hospital when they did not need to be – were “coming down”. We’ll come back to the issue of crowding momentarily but in the meantime, here’s a graph courtesy of another doctor, Lauren Gavaghan:

Or perhaps Mrs May simply had not done her research and was saying whatever she thought people wanted to hear, in the hope that nobody would notice the falsehood. That seems to be epidemic in Conservative ministers at the moment.

Dr Gavaghan goes on to explain the situation in slightly more detail:

Some saw the Cabinet reshuffle – and the possibility of a new Health Secretary – as a ray of hope amidst all this misery:

Others were more realistic:

It was at this point that Philip Dunne MP, Conservative Minister for Health, made his career-defining contribution to a Commons debate on the crisis:

No doubt that will have provoked a reaction in you, dear reader. It certain did in others:

(Mr Mason was comparing the NHS with the case of Toby Young, whose appointment to the Office for Students was vigorously defended in the Commons chamber after the NHS debate, despite his blatant unsuitability for the job, only some of the reasons for which were mentioned in the tweet above.)

So there you have it.

There is no winter crisis because Theresa May says there isn’t.

Jeremy Hunt has been rewarded for decisions that have caused the deaths of NHS patients by being handed control over social care as well as health, in the Cabinet reshuffle.

And there’s no need to worry about hospital overcrowding because at least the very sick will have chairs to sit on.

And in the background, Tory privatisation cheerleaders are waiting for the right moment to claim that private companies could do a better job.

That moment must never come – because private companies not only can’t do a better job, they won’t.

Profit-making firms pick and choose the healthcare work they do, and wouldn’t go near Accident and Emergency treatment.

The problems we are seeing at the moment have been created entirely by the Conservatives’ decision to cut funding to the health service – a decision that has no rational basis at all.

They did it because they felt like it.

And people are dying.


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