The facts don’t lie, and nor do I – An open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

Dear Mr Hunt

On Thursday night, in your acceptance speech, you accused me of “falsehoods”.

In your words, you accuse me of lying about “both our record with the NHS and also our motives”. You were clearly rattled that over 12,000 people in South West Surrey showed their concern for the NHS and voted for someone who questioned your record, but that is what democracy is all about – holding the government to account.

The truth is that I haven’t lied for the simple reason that I haven’t needed to. The facts speak for themselves.

When I talked about your record, I drew out many facts:

  • The number of people lying on trolleys waiting more than 4 hours to be admitted to a hospital bed increased from 387,737 in 2015/16 to 560,108 in 2016/17 – that’s a 45% increase in one year. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that a trolley is one of the least safe places to be in the health care system or of the three patients who died in Worcestershire hospital on trolleys during last winter’s crisis?[i] The British Red Cross described it as a “humanitarian crisis.
  • Ambulance response times, especially for the most urgent calls, are the worst since records began. The national target of reaching 75% of Category A calls within eight minutes has not been met for 32 consecutive months. [ii]
  • Mental health services are struggling. Suicide is the commonest cause of death in boys age 5-16 yet children’s mental health services can’t cope with the volume of referrals and often there is not a single mental health bed anywhere in the country due to cuts to mental health provision. [iii]
  • Performance against the 6-week cancer treatment target and the 18-week elective treatment target are deteriorating. [iv]
  • Infant mortality is rising for the first time in years, having been rising for poorer children for a decade. [v]
  • The Royal Society of Medicine attributed the 30,000 excess deaths in the winter of 2015 to cuts to health and social care. [vi]
  • The NHS has fallen further down international league tables of mortality due to treatable causes. [vii]

None of these is a lie.

I also talked about the increasing privatisation for the NHS and your quote that “I am not privatising the NHS”. Was it a lie when I pointed out that the percentage of Dept of Health budget spent on for-profit providers rose by 25% in two years? [viii]

Perhaps it was my comments about funding that you felt were untrue. I said that the NHS had been underfunded and that future plans in the manifesto were insufficient. In fact, it was your government that was rebuked by the health select committee (including two Conservative MPs) for claiming that you’d be spending an extra £10 billion a year on NHS by 2020.[ix] They pointed out that a large proportion of this was taken from public health and doctor and nurse training budgets. Moving money around within a service to appear more generous than you actually are is fundamentally dishonest. [x]

In fact, your claim that you will be spending an extra £10bn per annum by 2020 compared with 2015 turns out to be only a £4.5 bn increase. This amounts to a 1.1% annual rise each year in the decade from 2010 -2020[xi], the biggest funding squeeze in NHS history and not even half of the 2.7% per annum forecast growth in need over that period, according to the NHS chief executive.[xii] As for the future, Prof Anita Charlesworth of the Health Foundation says that the promised extra funding for the NHS in the Conservative manifesto is far less than the NHS needs.[xiii]

Maybe you are accusing me of lying when I draw attention to NHS staff shortages and the disgraceful way you treat NHS staff:

  • In 2015, Health Education England calculated that the NHS had 30,000 fewer full-time equivalent nurses than needed – equivalent to nearly one in 10 positions.[xiv]
  • You have imposed a draconian pay cap on nurses meaning their pay will have been cut by 12% by 2020[xv]
  • You have removed the bursary for student nurses, meaning many people who want to train to become a nurse can’t afford to do so[xvi]
  • You have treated nurses and junior doctors with contempt. Record numbers are taking time off with stress because they fear that patients aren’t receiving the care they need[xvii] and 50% of nurses are considering leaving the profession because of this[xviii]
  • In the recent NHS staff survey, 47% said current staffing levels were insufficient to allow them to do their job properly and 59% reported working unpaid overtime each week.[xix]
  • Since your announcement in 2015 of 5,000 more GPs by 2020 we actually have fewer GPs now than two years ago! [xx]

In the election campaign I stated that your performance as Health Secretary is destroying the NHS, demoralising staff and risking patient safety. As you can see from the above, this is absolutely true.

Finally, you accused me of lying about your motives. I have no idea what your motives are for destroying our NHS, but I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I have assumed that you are doing it deliberately – in order to run it down and provide an excuse for privatisation.

If I were you I’d accept that interpretation, because the alternative is that this has all been caused by your sheer incompetence.

Patients and NHS staff deserve better than this. The NHS is a great organisation and provides excellent care to most people most of the time, thanks to its dedicated and hardworking staff. But it is cracking at the seams and sometimes failing, due to the many pressures it is under. I am motivated by the desire to defend the NHS and raise the alarm about the dangers it faces from a continuation of Conservative policies. And as long as you are health secretary I will continue to hold you to account for what you are doing to the NHS.

 

Dr Louise Irvine

[i] https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ae-waiting-times-and-activity

[ii] http://www.qualitywatch.org.uk/indicator/ae-waiting-times

[iii] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/04/nhs-child-mental-health-services-anxiety-depression

[iv] http://www.qualitywatch.org.uk/latest-data/combined-performance-summary-march-2017

[v] http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2258

[vi] https://www.rsm.ac.uk/about-us/media-information/2017-media-releases/new-analysis-links-30000-excess-deaths-in-2015-to-cuts-in-health-and-social-care.aspx

[vii] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/18/nhs-care-among-worst-europe

[viii] https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/influence/key-negotiations/nhs-funding/privatisation-report

[ix] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/30/theresa-mays-claim-on-health-funding-not-true-say-mps

[x] https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/nhs-budget

[xi] https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/fyfv-tech-note-090516.pdf

[xii] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/29/nhs-nurses-pay-cut-12-per-cent-over-decade

[xiii] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/21/nhs-bursaries-for-student-nurses-will-end-in-2017-government-confirms

[xiv] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/national-hell-service-landmark-nurses-10053340

[xv] https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/reviews-and-reports/critical-reasons-behind-nurses-leaving-profession-laid-bare/7016295.article

[xvi] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/23/number-gps-has-fallen-since-nhs-launched-5-year-rescue-plan/

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47 Responses to The facts don’t lie, and nor do I – An open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

  1. JaneH says:

    I watched his acceptance speech on video ,he came over as small minded and arrogant.I pity the NHS staff who have to work with him,the fact that yet again he has kept his post indicates how uncaring and out of touch May has proved to be.I will do everything I can to change this situation,in the meantime my thoughts are with the NHS staff who have to work for and answer to this particular Secretary of State for Health and this government.

    Liked by 2 people

    • AndyB says:

      That’s fine but please do not think May is uncaring and out of touch, the tories HATE the NHS and Hunt is in post to destroy it and give it away. May knows this. Think back to her first reshuffle – there was a delay announcing SofS Health – rumours flew that Hunt was out – you can imagine the frantic phone calls – “Theresa did nobody tell you – he isn’t useless its a plan keep him on!”

      Like

  2. David Bradley says:

    Unfortunately this is a superglue seat and while your efforts have reduced the majority a tiny bit, it is no more than a blip. By the time you will have another chance to have a pop, the NHS as we know won’t exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen Howard-Betts says:

      I live in this constituency and I think the problem is that we did not all vote tactically. Unfortunately, there was conflicting advice – the Guardian had the tactical vote as Labour, and the Gina Miller campaign as Louise Irvine, so again, the non-Tory vote was split.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AndyB says:

        Did the Grauniad truely have it as tactical Labour? – that is appalling! Shame (yet again) on the Grauniad. (And I’m a G supporter).

        Like

      • s. goubet says:

        NHA + Labour +Lib Dem votes = 25,666; this still leaves a 8,017 majority for J Hunt. There must be some sort of brainwashing fluid in the waters of Guildford, it’s the only explanation for why people would so overwhelmingly vote for the ransacking of the NHS.

        Like

      • Kensington was a superglue Tory seat, too. It may have just gone with a 20 seat lead to Labour but I would suggest that the Conservatives have well and truly lost it for a very long time because of #Grenfell Tower. The public mood has changed. The media mood has changed. The greed and corruption of this Government is being exposed. I’d not assume anything any longer, politically.

        Like

  3. R & D says:

    This is powerful stuff and surely deserves an even wider audience. Is it going to the press or does that then make for more complications? Surely Jeremy Hunt should be required to respond?

    We were delighted that Louise increased her share of the vote by such a large percentage and the fact that his name does not ever appear in news reports following the debacle over the election is surely eloquent testimony of his invisibility and lack of involvement or caring. This is surely a battle that must be won for all all our sakes so please keep up the fight Louise!

    Best wishes and good luck , we are with you. R&D ……………..

    >

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Terry McCahey says:

    A damning indictment. I fear you are correct, that Hunt remains in place because he is doing exactly what his Party wish him to do. Together with implementation of the Naylor report, they are doing all they can to sell off large chunks of the NHS by the back door.

    There needs to be more scrutiny of the personal interests of Jeremy Hunt and his family, including Virginia Bottomly.

    As you say, if the ruination of the NHS ISN’T deliberate, then how is someone so incompetent still in place.

    Thank you for an excellent exposé and for all you and your colleagues do for us.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Alan Webster says:

    My very best wishes on your campaign Dr Louise -A very impressive though sad indictment of an evil man in an evil government taking advantage of the good natured . Chin up this government will fail soon. Then there’ll be another election and this corrupt evil regime will be swept away. Oh roll-on.
    Thankyou

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I approached Jeremy Hunt after one of your hustings Louise and showed him a sign saying Y R U selling NHS. Once he read the message he leapt back from the sign and defended himself saying, not true and waving his arms. His body language told me all I needed to know. He recoiled from the truth of that statement as if it had been a venomous snake.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. giaconda says:

    He’s one of the most arrogant, insufferable politicians I’ve ever had to watch. He won’t listen, he won’t compromise, he has zero compassion and should not be in public life. He actually sees the tragedy of the human condition as a business opportunity. I can’t say just how disgusted I am by him. beyond words.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Glad to see you doing so well. Your old comrade, michael anderson

    Like

  9. Judith Roberts says:

    Excellent analysis. Your informed contempt is palpable and just . I wish you luck that you get a chance to stand again . Perhaps at another seat? I’d love to see you take him on in the HoP.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Louise – I am a GP and I am horrified that Hunt is back in post undermining morale, stealing services away from those that deserve them just to flog it all off to big businesses (who can’t cope with the profit margins and dump them as soon as this becomes apparent). I said to my husband (also a doctor) when the Tories won in 2015 that general practice would be privatised by the end of their term. It breaks my heart. All that goodwill, all that expertise and care so casually dismissed.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. chris says:

    Keep up the good work Dr Louise. It is frightening how arrogant, insensitive and downright uncaring this government is, as typified by Hunt.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Gloria Daniel says:

    Bravo Dr Irvine,

    For your facts, figures and clear compassion.

    This man and several other ministers are self – serving business men who have no place in government.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Toni says:

    Thank you Dr. Louise. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Violet Weeks says:

    This is letter really states the facts that the public have been suspicious of for some time. We are ,supposedly, a democracy and I cannot think of one person whom I know who wants to see any more privatisation . In fact the opposite is probably true, we would like to see all privatisation eventually taken out of the NHS. I know that I want a privatisation free NHS.

    Like

  15. SoSoMoFoBo says:

    Dr Irvine, you are an inspiration and I wish you all the luck in the world in getting all of us who care about the future of our beloved NHS behind your cause and defending it to the last. It is appalling that it has come to this after years of Conservative rule. That Jeremy Hunt is back in post is extremely sad but not surprising really. He has after all done his job very well – as you say, driving down the service as an excuse to privatise it. That’s exactly the situation with that other awful MP, Chris Grayling and the Southern Rail crisis and what they are intending with the Land Registry. I don’t understand how anyone with a conscience or pride in their country can vote for such an evil party. Please keep up the good work. We are all behind you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Kate Galvin says:

    Thank you for your detailed analysis and for calling Hunt to account.

    Like

  17. bayrok says:

    You state: “You have imposed a draconian pay cap on nurses meaning their pay will have been cut by 12% by 2020”
    This is accurate and true. But what this misses is the long term impact on nurses index-linked pensions. If a nurse who retired (say) 10 years ago at age 55 after damaging her back received a £12,000 a year pension, her colleague who worked an extra ten years to 65 will receive a far smaller pension in real terms, because whilst the retirement pension is index linked and rises in line with inflation, the pay wasn’t.

    You would need an actuary to figure out the maths, but basically how it works is this: the longer you work, the more you get ripped off.

    Like

  18. diamonds4me2 says:

    Thank you for caring enough, not only stand against Hunt, but also to take the time to write such a detaqiled letter. Referencing every fact and figure of this damning list must be heartbreaking. Reading it certainly is. I could cry for our doctor and nurses, to be working so hard and never feeling like you’re winning, must be devastating, particularly so in healthcare. No wonder, as you point out, that so many are suffering from stress related conditions.
    Please don’t give up, if possible, your efforts to show what this spiteful government are doing to our NHS, and how Hunt in particular, so obviously relishes dismantling the service and causing distress and actual harm to so many people, from the start of life, to the end of life, his cuts have impacted us all. Very best wishes to you Dr Irvine,
    Annie Haslam

    Like

  19. Pingback: Jeremy Hunt accused this GP of lying on election night. Her reply is dynamite. - The London Economic

  20. Heywood says:

    Absolutely right. The NHS is being systematically dismantled and privatised by these dishonest and hypocritical Tories. Talk to anyone who actually works in the NHS and you get the true story of underfunding, understaffing and stress beyond belief. And the Tories are STILL proposing further cuts and more austerity. I wonder where they get THEIR
    health treatment….

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sue Kennedy says:

    This is a very truthful analysis of our NHS in the hands of the Tory government. I have worked in the NHS since 1978 and it saddens me so much how bad it has become, staff are demoralised and yet continue to give 110% – however I don’t know how long this goodwill can continue. I think this letter should be sent to the Queen, as our head of state at the end of the day she has to give permission to the Tory government to form another Parliament, surely she has an opinion. Also the letter should be published for all to see.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Pamela Sloan says:

    Well done, Doctor Irvine. Your forensic analysis took Hunt apart. It’s galling to be up against such seemingly immovable objects and it can seem like swimming against the strongest tide. Do hope you have the will to carry on; millions of people agree with you and when your cause is victorious we’ll be grateful to you. Every best wish.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Eva & Roy Smith says:

    It is absolutely disgraceful why j hunt is again trying to get rid of the NHS for private as the majority of his colleagues use the private just out there to feather there nests. Well done Dr Irvine we are all with you and thank you for your continued support.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. David Taylor says:

    Very difficult as we now have a Conservative party that DOES NOT CONSERVE. All the decencies are flung out . Never were they this satanic. But they CAN be fought and here is an effective fighter. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Pingback: General Election 2017: Winners, Losers and Change across the board – For the Road

  26. Good on you : the truths need to be told. How he can still be in his post one can only guess. There is something corrupt about the level of deception and misinformation propagated by the conservative government. No accountability to the people, the electorate, or this dedicated staff doing their best in a time of health crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Roslyn Beattie says:

    Dear Dr Irvine
    Your letter is so powerful because you speak from a base of first-hand knowledge. If enough of us care we can make our voices heard. We need a candidate for the NHS Party in as many constituencies as possible but in my view to be heard they need to members of the medical profession. I know this means overworked professionals called upon to do more but waiting will not resolve the situation and short term effort may secure a brighter and more secure future for us all.
    The only true wealth is our health (been saying that on greetings cards for years) as I found out when I needed urgent treatment and received it within 24 hours.
    How do we join the NHS Party?

    Like

  28. Peter Gates says:

    Thanks for your work. Many years since giving out Health Emergency leaflets and watched cuts, PPI and (the British Disease) unsustainable layers of “management”
    weigh down on our wonderful health service.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Ann Marie Wilson says:

    Wouldn’t it be karma for Mr Hunt to require the services of the NHS and have to wait in a corridor for 6 hours waiting on a bed. I work in the NHS in Scotland and do realise that things up here although still under pressure are way better than in England. I have first hand had to use the service in Scotland and have had excellent treatment and care. My daughter recieved excellent care in Addenbrookes last year but the length of time she has had to wait for follow up appointments is ridiculous and far in access of the time I have had to wait in Scotland. Mr Hunt we have a service that the rest of the world is envious off Do not destroyed it and take the UK back to times when dickens novels where written about the poverty and NO care society

    Like

  30. Thank God. I no longer live in the UK. The French system is without doubt better. I wait 3 days for a cataract operation and 3 weeks for the second eye. My total bill was 22 euros for the food consumed. Although not perfect,and maybe because the french are hyperchondriacs, there is no longer any comparison with the horror tales we have here of British NHS. Also. Here it
    is all nationalised. Not privatised. What we, from afar, do not understand, is how top executives, not Doctors, command such high salaries. £12000 a year is the limit of our pensions after 40 years of work (including State pension) and we think we are well off. I would love to return healthcare for the people rather than a selected few with inflated ego’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. NHSWorker says:

    A very good summary of the facts. A magnificent performance in the election! “They don’t like it up ’em” as Lance Corporal Jones would have said! I would go as far as to say that the last Secretary of State who truly believed in the NHS was Frank Dobson and that was a long time ago (and New Labour hadn’t started investing while he did the job so he was a bit hamstrung – but I think he was generally trusted and even liked by most staff).

    The problem with the NHS can be boiled down to two main things (Yes I know it’s very complicated if you want to include everything but….)
    1) It is primarily finance-driven. If it were safety and quality driven it would be better AND in the end, cheaper,
    2) The public are disempowered. They know it’s not right to close local acute services, for example, but the mergers and closures continue apace (by the way, there is NO evidence that acute trust mergers improve quality or save money in the short or long term and there are VERY FEW examples of specific diseases or situations where travelling a long distance improves outcome when like is compared with like AND lots of evidence (e.g. acute unsorted medical admissions, maternity, … that extra distance travelled is a detriment – but as you say, HMG does not follow the evidence or consider need; just the dogma/ideology or finance, or both).

    Like

  32. Joyce Heard says:

    Has anyone ever investigated who the ‘private’ companies are, that were the PFI financiers of the hospital infrastructure building programme (and other government offices)? Reportedly they are now eating up the largest share of the govt. funding that is supposed to be going to run the NHS. I just wondered if it were possible for these agreements to be renegotiated or for the person in govt. who agreed them to be censured in some way?

    Like

  33. Sarah Constable says:

    The NHS is a valuable and essential service. The staff work tirelessly for the benefit of patients. What the Conservative are doing is criminal and they need to be held to account. They trick the public with false figures of spending that up front look substantial but they dont show them in context, now that’s a falsehood.

    Like

  34. Thomas Thomson says:

    We cannot criticise the Citizens of USA for supporting Donald Trump as long as we ignore what the Tories are doing to the NHS. This is obviously a national disgrace and our press are not doing their job which must be to keep harping on about the facts. A similar failure occurred over the facts relating to Brexit, and we know where that ended up!

    Like

  35. A.Garratt. says:

    Thankyou Dr Irvine for standing up to Mr Hunt.The NHS is very under funded especially mental health.Good luck with your campaign!

    Like

  36. Kate Lawrie says:

    I am old enough to remember the days pre NHS and how my mother called the Dr. in for me but couldn’t afford him for herself. Of course NHS and state education are not used by the Cabinet so if you can’t pay for them, tough! My daughter lives in South Africa and pays insurance to cover health care and all education has to be bought. Heaven forbid we go back to the good old days. Kate Lawrie.

    Like

  37. Andrew Croft says:

    What a great piece. Really spells it out in black and white, with incontrovertible figures, what’s really going on.

    Like

  38. Dr Morag Salmon says:

    Thank you for this letter. I think it deserves to be read very widely and discussed. I am retired GP and palliative care physician and have no confidence in Jeremy Hunt . He has been dishonest and arrogant in his dealings with healthcare professionals. I am really sad to see the disinvestment in our NHS and also the lack of leadership on tackling the problems of an ageing population with increasing chronic disease and the lack of joined up social and health care. Please everybody lets get more vocal about the bad decisions being made. Dr Morag Salmon

    Like

  39. Beryl Murdy says:

    I too remember the days of the man calling for the Drs pennies and would hate to see a return to treatment only for those who can afford to pay. My aunt in California tells horrific stories of the cost of hospitalization over there and we definitely don’t want that here.

    Like

  40. Bill Scott says:

    I am disgusted at the Tory cuts and lies within the NHS.
    Shutting down SHAs and PCTs to change the management and giving the money to GPs created a network of extra management within CCGs, far more than was in place in the SHAs, and what what the property management and maintenance services in the PCTs is now running as a for profit company called NHSPS because the government forgot that the SHAs and PCTs were also responsible for maintenance and repairs and rental contracts; contracts to which many GPs have still not signed up to and which cost the NHS tens of thousands per month in unrecovered income, far more than the cost of so called payment for hospital care for foreigners who run off and do not pay their bills..

    Like

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