One … government source said police had targeted “low-hanging fruit”, and another agreed this appeared to be the police’s approach.
Civil servants have not been provided with help for legal costs and are being advised to pay any fines they receive, while senior staff and politicians have paid for private legal advice.
A recipient can contest a fine, in which case the police will review the case to decide whether or not to withdraw the fine or take the matter to court.
And Sky News has said the investigation may have been slowed down by the need to consult the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):
A CPS lawyer would be needed if the recipient of a fine decided to fight and take the issue to a magistrates’ court.
The CPS can ask the police to do more work, or direct them to collect more evidence until it is satisfied it could prosecute a case.
Sky News understands that the Metropolitan Police did not fully consult the CPS at the start of the investigation.
The CPS could have questions about the unusual questionnaires used to extract more information from those in government.
The implication running through both broadcasters’ interpretations of events is that senior civil servants and Conservative politicians are indeed contesting fines.
The reason for this may be the question of whether a fine represents proof of criminality.
Ministers and senior civil servants – like, for example, Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – are likely to want to do everything they can to avoid an implication that they have committed a criminal act.
With the question undetermined, it seems they are seeking to challenge any fines imposed on them.
But this means that they may face court prosecution and any conviction following such an event would certainly be for a criminal offence.
If this is the route Boris Johnson has chosen, then he is in very serious trouble indeed.
Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are the Tory fools who have created the crisis in the English NHS. Tell them they are to blame. Tell them they should resign now.
The more I think about the unreasonable comments and demands made by Theresa May and her health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the less acceptable they seem.
We are told senior GPs could resign in huge numbers because Mrs May has irrationally chosen to scapegoat them for the humanitarian crisis sweeping the National Health Service in England. But why should they?
Surely we can all see where responsibility really lies?
The Conservatives aren’t responsible for the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and those countries aren’t experiencing any crisis – except possibly where their services are reliant on facilities based in England.
The Conservatives are responsible for the NHS in England, and it is in England that the crisis has occurred.
Therefore Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are responsible for causing the current crisis; so Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt should resign.
Why are high-profile politicians and medical leaders not already demanding their heads on a plate?
Theresa May seems keen to blame anybody but herself – she tried to pin the crisis on the elderly before claiming that A&E departments are buckling because she thinks GPs are lazy.
Enough is enough.
Whenever Mrs May, Mr Hunt or any other Tory (with the exception of Dr Sarah Wollaston, who has spoken up for the NHS, thereby proving she is in the wrong political party altogether) tries to run down the NHS, its doctors, nurses, specialists, workers or users, let’s just tell them:
“No. You are to blame. Resign.”
It’s a simple message, and easy to repeat.
Put it out there a few times and even our Tory-loving mass media might get the hang of it.
“Let’s not rewrite history,” said NHS England chief Simon Stevens – but Theresa May has tried to do exactly that.
She knows perfectly well that he said the NHS in England would need between £8 billion and £21 billion in order to sustain the service up to 2020.
Her claim that, by giving the service £10 billion over six years, she is providing more than was requested is a lie.
That’s £8.4 billion over five years – the absolute lowest end of the scale presented by Mr Stevens.
It takes no account of cuts to social care, closed walk-in centres, closed pharmacies, limited availability of GP appointments – all caused by Tory mismanagement.
More money than the NHS requested would be at least £22 billion.
And the fact is that Tory cuts to the English health service will amount to nearly £40 billion – including the extra £8.4 billion – by 2020.
Theresa May is a liar and should resign because her lies are threatening people’s lives. Jeremy Hunt is a liar and should resign for the same reason.
The claim: The NHS is being given more money than it asked for.
Reality Check verdict: The amount that the NHS in England is being given over this Parliament is at the bottom end of the range that it asked for. It doesn’t take into account the knock-on effects of shortfalls in other areas such as social care.
“We asked the NHS to work out what it needed over the next five years in terms of… the funding it would need,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News on Sunday.
“We gave them more funding then they required.”
But NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens denied this on Wednesday.
Mr Stevens has made clear that when he mentioned the £8bn figure, that was the minimum amount needed just to plug the funding gap.
But this figure is not enough to keep pace with rising demand, improve services or accommodate plans for seven-day services.
Speaking to NHS leaders last June, he said: “Let’s not rewrite history.
“In the Forward View, we actually said that the National Health Service would need between £8bn and £21bn by 2020 in order to sustain and improve.”
Even as the UK erupts in protest at the government’s neglect of the NHS, the Tory privatisation plan is working, it seems.
The crisis has created a perception that the public health service is unable to cope. Private firms can capitalise on this – and don’t forget that more private contracts are being offered up for NHS work, every day. Here’s the latest:
In the middle of an NHS Crisis, the Tories are still offering chunks of your NHS to private health. This for exmaple https://t.co/AdpD4hagsC
It’s for an ‘integrated urgent care service’ (whatever that may be), offered by Kernow CCG (in Cornwall?) and is worth nearly £50 million.
It should be remembered that private healthcare will not offer treatment for the most complicated, long-term conditions; the people who need it most. Instead, they take contracts that draw funding away from their treatment.
And the ‘crisis’ narrative gains momentum – but it lacks one major element.
The only reason there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS is underfunding by the Conservative Party in government. They will have inflicted nearly £40 billion of cuts by 2020, and have already passed on around £20 billion of funding to private companies, much of which will be transferred to shareholders’ bank accounts as profit, rather than having anything to do with treatment of illness.
The bureaucratic cost of private involvement alone is astronomical.
Yet Theresa May tried to blame the crisis on the increase of elderly patients, in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
In fact, decades of ward closures have led to the bed crisis. Bed-to-population ratios are worse than in some eastern European countries. Funding of the NHS, in total, is well below the EU average. But Mrs May keeps rattling on about a “strong economy” being the answer. Didn’t Philip Hammond say our economy is the strongest in the developed world, during his Autumn Statement last year? Yes, he did.
I am sick of hearing Tories say a strong economy will help the NHS. Utter nonsense. It needs funding to the EU average @DLidington#bbcqt
Simon Stevens holds up a copy of the Daily Mail at a public accounts committee meeting focusing on the crisis in the health service [Image: Parliament TV].
The crisis in the English National Health Service is deepening while Tories, led by Theresa May, quibble over the amount of money it is getting.
Mrs May told Sky News on Sunday that, “when the government had asked the NHS what it needed for the next five years, it had been given ‘more funding’ than ‘required’.”
But Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, denied this point-blank in evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday (Wednesday).
Ministers had said NHS England had requested £8bn and been allocated £10bn. But Mr Stevens told MPs that was to cover six years rather than the five-year plan he had put forward.
“I don’t think that’s the same as saying we are getting more than we asked for over five years.”
He also held up a copy of a Daily Mail report showing that health spending in England is much lower than in other European countries.
In any case, as This Site has pointed out – £10 billion won’t cancel out the £20 billion of cuts inflicted over the last few years – or the £22 billion consigned to private healthcare firms that Conservatives have invited to raid the NHS for lucrative contracts, and the bureaucracy associated with it. Mr Stevens described cuts to capital expenditure as “robbing Paul to pay Paul”.
In many cases, the companies gaining from NHS contracts – which turn public money into profits for their shareholders – had financial links to Conservative politicians. It doesn’t take a lot of detective work to understand that the introduction of private companies into the NHS was about enriching these Conservatives rather than improving health outcomes.
Former Conservative Health Secretary Steven Dorrell has supported Mr Stevens’ comments, and said the government “should be addressing the evidence about what is happening on the ground rather than engaging in a rather high-profile discussion about, frankly, what sound to the public like telephone numbers of public expenditure”.
In other words, the NHS needs action, not pointless arguments.
Meanwhile, more than 20 hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of normal services.
A black alert is defined as as a “serious incident”. It means the system is under severe pressure and is unable to deliver certain actions and comprehensive emergency care.
At least 23 hospital trusts have declared they cannot cope since Monday. Theresa May described this, at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, as “extra pressures on the NHS”. Do you think that is a fair description?
Labour MP Toby Perkins – whose father reportedly died in his arms after being mistakenly sent home during the last major NHS crisis in July last year – might take a different view.
Remember the NHS crisis last July? Nor do I. Apparently everybody was too busy to notice, as they were being whipped up against junior doctors, who were threatening industrial action over the danger to patients posed by a new contract introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt’s contract, which he later forced on junior doctors in spite of their concerns, demanded more work from them in conditions that were less safe. And here we are.
Do we believe Mrs May, who has lied about more money going into the NHS? Or Mr Hunt, who forced an unsafe contract on junior doctors that has almost certainly contributed to the current crisis?
Or do we believe junior doctor Rachel Clarke, who has made it absolutely clear that she believes the Conservatives are covering up the crisis and putting savings before safety.
She writes: “First-hand testimony from frontline doctors backs up the scale of the crisis, depicting almost unimaginable conditions of squalor and indignity up and down the country. “It’s an absolute war zone” said one junior doctor, “completely out of control” said another.
“Hunt’s denial of frontline reality has left doctors like me feeling utterly terrified for our patients. Two deaths on trolleys are two too many.
“Just how many more are required before the Government acts?”
I asked much the same question, days ago, after it was revealed the Red Cross had stepped in and called this a “humanitarian crisis”.
Dr Clarke writes: “Hunt condemned the ‘times when it might feel easier to conceal mistakes, to deny that things have gone wrong and to slide into postures of institutional defensiveness’, vowing instead to foster ‘a climate of openness, where staff are supported to do the right thing and where we put people first at all times.'”
“So why, at this time of crisis for NHS patients, has the Government spin machine cranked into overdrive, denying the seriousness of doctors’ concerns and promising the public that all is well? That is the precise opposite of what the nation was promised,” writes Dr Clarke.
“Everyone who works in the NHS has a duty of candour, and no Health Secretary should be exempt from that. If Hunt really cares about patients, then when frontline staff are clamouring to warn of crisis conditions that we know are costing lives, he owes it to patients to listen.”
Well, here’s a possibility: Perhaps Mrs May and Mr Hunt are holding on because they know their job is nearly finished. With NHS trusts facing a 21 per cent increase in tax next April – thanks to Tory changes – and the healthcare it provides in crisis – thanks to Tory changes – perhaps they think they only have to wait a while before being able to claim the NHS has had its day and it is time for an expensive private insurance system to take over – meaning more profit for them.
Theresa May set up a blind trust arrangement when she became prime minister, allowing her to hold on to shareholdings or other investments without disclosing what they are to the public. Does she have shares in private health? It is in the public interest to know, but she has refused to surrender the facts. Why?
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That was the mantra when Mrs May – the same Mrs May – was pushing her Snooper’s Charter through Parliament against the will of the public. She is clearly afraid of divulging the details of her shareholdings. What does she have to hide?
He said a regular meeting of NHS chiefs discussed “at what point does public confidence in the NHS model of care, delivered free at the point of use based on clinical need not the ability to pay, come into question” – and the conclusion was that “What we are doing at the moment is not sustainable.”
One has to question this man’s attitude. Rather than fight for the NHS, he is ready to give it up – exactly as Mrs May and Mr Hunt must want.
But the people of the United Kingdom aren’t having it.
The NHS is our most precious possession – one that we know Conservatives hate and want to end. That is why we must fight them for it – all the way to the ballot box.
Theresa May and her cabinet cronies will stop at nothing to win this battle. They don’t care if your friends or relatives die on hospital trolleys after waiting unendurable times for treatment.
They don’t care that we know the NHS is only failing because they have deliberately crippled it.
They don’t care that three-quarters of the UK’s population didn’t vote for them and even most of those who did are supporters of the NHS.
They want their private system. They want their massive profits. They want to ruin your health forever, because you’ll never be able to afford their prices.
You cannot afford to lose the fight for the National Health Service.
Jeremy Hunt has absolutely no right to complain about “extreme” or “unwarranted” action by anybody else.
Let us remember that he is prepared to negotiate on only one of 23 points in his planned new pay scheme for junior doctors – a plan that he intends to impose, rather than trying to reach agreement with those whose remuneration and working conditions he intends to degrade.
Yes, strike action in the NHS is unwelcome, but the only reason this is happening is the intractability of the Secretary of State for Health.
If you – or anybody you know – feel the need to blame anybody for this, blame the right man.
The health secretary is gearing up for a fierce battle with the profession, despite NHS bosses and leaders of the medical profession warning him that a protracted dispute will seriously disrupt services just when they are under the most pressure.
The BMA said junior doctors would walk out on 1, 8 and 16 December over a new contract Hunt is threatening to impose on them if, as expected, their ongoing ballot approves industrial action.
“Threatening extreme action is totally unwarranted and will harm vulnerable patients. Refusing to talk to a government that wants to improve weekend care for patients and reduce doctors’ hours can only damage the NHS,” said Hunt on Thursday.
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