Tag Archives: National Health Service

What Jeremy Hunt isn’t telling us:ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND good news NHS stories!

STG-65-Birthday-A3-Poster1                          images (8)

An outside observer of some of the right wing media coverage of the NHS over recent months could be forgiven for thinking that our 65 year old system of publicly funded healthcare was failing badly. The hyped up propaganda has painted a hysterical universal picture of NHS hospitals as places where painful death creeps through wards and corridors grimly reaping as it goes; places where nurses and doctors are slipshod, uncaring or downright callous and cruel and patients are constructed as their helpless victims. You can almost hear the melodramatic silent movie music and mad cackling laughter.

NHS1   Nothing could be further from the truth. When I was born in 1950 the NHS and the welfare state were barely two years old and because it existed my mother was attended by trained midwives and as I grew she could take me to a weekly clinic where my weight was monitored and she had access to free baby milk, orange juice and vitamins to help me thrive. Prior to the NHS most working class folk like us couldn’t afford what we now think of as basic healthcare. Our babies were delivered at home by untrained women often in unhygienic conditions. Maternal deaths were high. If a mother was unable to breastfeed, cow’s milk had to suffice. There was little knowledge of the need to sterilise bottles etc and little money for, or knowledge of a healthy diet. I had an aunt whose legs were bent out of shape by rickets and an uncle who died aged 50 from a treatable heart condition because he couldn’t afford to pay for either the doctor or the medicine that would have saved him.

There is no doubt that the NHS has transformed the health of the working class and saved many, many lives.

images   In three short years the Coalition government, with its crazed programme of benefit cuts and its unbelievably savage attack on people with disabilities, has catapulted the working class back to those pre NHS days of my infancy. And it seems determined to finish the job by destroying a system that ensured everyone had access to a level of healthcare previously only available to the well off.

And they’re doing this by trying to turn us against it with the sly tactic of the self fulling prophesy . Because by starving hospitals of cash and staff they aim to create the chaos that they hope will justify privatisation.

images (1)     So now its high time for the GOOD NEWS stories to be told about the NHS to put things back into proportion. Like every organisation under the sun, the NHS doesn’t get it right all the time. But it does get it right an awful lot more times than the government would have us believe and it does it every hour of every day of every year all over the UK.  A simple Google search for the term “the NHS saved my life” yielded ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND hits and I’ve listed some of the links below so people can read something positive about our health service for a change. I’m not claiming that every single one of those hits was a good news story but the vast majority of them certainly were – and they were all stories of how NHS staff from ambulance crews to doctors and nurses and even a dietician had helped to save a life. There’s even one from a Tory MP!

opperman    MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman invited the neurosurgeon who saved his life to Westminster to present him with a cheque from the proceeds of a book he’d written, as a thank  you for the great care he received from the NHS. He seems unusual for a Tory since he’s also campaigned against low wages and first got interested in national politics after giving up his time as a barrister for free to lead a campaign to fight the closure of Savernake NHS Hospital, which he credited with saving his mother’s life from cancer.

   So here are the good news stories that I hope will help heal the NHS reputation (not ‘cure’ it like a side of bacon!).

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http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/giving-book-proceeds-to-nhs-as-thank-you.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/06/nhs-just-saved-my-life

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1361044/Andrew-Lansleys-NHS-reform-It-saved-life-wasnt-liberated-then.html

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/examiner-plus/2012/05/09/the-nhs-saved-my-life-now-we-need-to-save-the-nhs-huddersfield-author-gives-his-verdict-after-six-months-in-hospital-86081-30926518/

http://dave-howells.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-nhs-saved-my-life-in-aid-of.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/120874/Obama-s-stepmother-The-NHS-saved-my-life

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/yoursay/letterstotheeditor/9181453.To_NHS_knockers__it_saved_my_life/

http://www.cumbriapartnership.nhs.uk/news/royal-recognition-for-simple-act-of-kindness.htm

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/yoursay/opinion/yourletters/8090504.NHS_saved_my_life/

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http://www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk/Default.aspx?pageId=153&lan=en&sid=151

http://www.scoop.it/t/brighton-and-sussex-university-hospitals-nhs-trust/p/4000847988/hurstwood-park-saved-my-life-says-jess-county-news-west-sussex-gazette

http://www.justgiving.com/Kevin-Rutherford1

http://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/ourorganisation/newsandpublications/pressreleases/Pages/RoutineNHSscanwasalife-saver,saysgrandfatherAnthony.aspx

http://www.nhsforthvalley.com/news/2013/bowel-screening-saves-lives

download                                                   http://www.midstaffs.nhs.uk/Our-Services/Have-Your-Say.aspx

http://www.wmsc.nhs.uk/news/grace-says-thank-you-for-saving-my-life-as-west-midlands-trauma-care-system-goes-live

http://www.derbyhospitals.nhs.uk/patients/inpatients/inpatient-experiences/sharon-norton/

http://www.scotsman.com/scotland-on-sunday/opinion/comment/scottish-independence-fears-over-cross-border-nhs-1-2818976

https://www.nhslocal.nhs.uk/story/features/how-air-ambulance-saved-my-life

http://www.nhsggc.org.uk/content/default.asp?page=s1192_3&newsid=8839&back=home

http://www.sthk.nhs.uk/pages/News.aspx?iNewsItemId=571

http://www.southcentralambulance.nhs.uk/foundation-trust/membersstories/apatientsstory.ashx

http://www.enherts-tr.nhs.uk/blog/1985/press-releases/%E2%80%98new-heart-attack-treatment-saved-my-life%E2%80%99/

http://www.channel5.com/shows/brain-hospital-saving-lives/articles/about-the-show

http://www.buckinghamshire.nhs.uk/legacy/2010/04/bowel-cancer-screening-saved-my-life-says-local-woman/

http://www.rbht.nhs.uk/patients/why-us/patients-stories/cancer-testimony/

http://www.bradfordhospitals.nhs.uk/about-us/patient-testimonials

http://www.cht.nhs.uk/news/news-item/browse/20/article/early-diagnosis-saved-my-life/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=14&cHash=6c9cb0f5e6daaa997fc680fef258ea80

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/save-our-nhs.html

NHS-thank-you3

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Impending Chaos at Private Hospitals? A First Glimpse of One Possible Effect of Monitor’s Regulation’s

Jeremy-Hunt

This is a story of my recent experience of how a private hospital is coping with a sudden influx of NHS patients, due to the recent changes to healthcare in England. The personal account comes towards the end so please bear with me…

 We’re all too nauseatingly familiar by now with Jeremy Hunt’s ‘NHS is a disaster’ discourse with its characterisation of the whole service as one on the edge of collapse. According to this story A&E departments are in chaos, GP’s are lazy, hospitals are dirty, inefficient and badly managed. Waiting rooms are overflowing with people having to wait ages to be seen and nursing staff are dismissive of their needs. And the food’s terrible.

In contrast to this picture of medical Armageddon he paints a picture of private hospitals as clean, comfortable, well maintained places where patients are treated efficiently and with extraordinary care and attention; medical care is exemplary and they don’t have to wait around for ages to be seen. Oh, and the food is top quality.

images (2)  On 1st April this year, as we know, new regulations came into effect as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Under this new regulatory regime NHS foundation trusts must comply with the terms of the provider licence. The licence replaces the terms of authorisation under which trusts were previously granted foundation trust status. The Act  gives Monitor concurrent powers with the Office of Fair Trading to apply competition law in the health care sector in England and the terms of the new licences require health care providers to abide by a number of stringent regulations that are designed to ensure they don’t engage in ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour.

0_0_393_http-__offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_News_PG_89708F60-BFC9-851D-3EF48E898E5E2E69    The government sees these licence conditions as powerful incentives for improving the quality of care provided to patients. This is an important point to note since running throughout Jeremy Hunt’s discourse on the NHS is his concept of care quality and how its NOT being achieved across the NHS with the implication that its the delivery system that’s ultimately at fault, with the corresponding implication that a different service delivery system – private healthcare – would produce better results.

email-front-cover_0         When you read the licence conditions it becomes clear that the ONLY definition of ‘improving quality for patients’ that can be found within this document is ‘encouraging competition between providers’. Even when it talks of integrated care which demands different providers working together to provide a complete care package for patients, the need for these co-operating entities to maintain competition between themselves is still a licence requirement. This is clearly contradictory. The guidelines say this,

“With careful design therefore, many models for the delivery of integrated care can be implemented in a way that does not reduce competition between providers.”

And

“The licensee shall not:

a) enter into or maintain any agreement or other arrangement which has the object or which has (or would be likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the provision of health care services for the purposes of the NHS, or

b) engage in any other conduct which has (or would be likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the provision of health care services for the purposes of the NHS,”

It seems to me that it’s likely to need a hell of a lot of ‘careful design’ if different providers wanting to integrate their services by entering into co-operative contracts are going to avoid being in breach of their licence and thus at risk of the sanctions that Monitor can impose for such a breach – loss of that licence being one of them.

nhspatients       I now want to turn to another section of the licence conditions known as ‘Choice and Competition: Condition C1: The right of patients to make choices’. This is what it says,

“Choice and Competition – Condition C1: The right of patients to make choices This condition protects patients’ right to choose between providers by obliging licensees to make information available, to ensure that any information or advice provided is not misleading and to act in a fair way where patients have a choice of provider. This condition applies wherever patients have a choice under the NHS Constitution or a choice that has been conferred locally by commissioners. It also prohibits licensees from receiving or offering inducements to refer patients or commission services.

This condition prevents a licensee from entering into or maintaining agreements that have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition to the extent that it is against the interests of health care users. It also prohibits the licensee from engaging in other conduct which has (or is likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition to the extent that it is against the interests of health care users.”

Again it can be seen how the regulations once more conflate the interests of patients with the existence of competition between providers. In a fully public NHS you could imagine an element of competition based on quality of service and as a patient would want the ability to choose the best. However, in a climate of privatisation  competition takes on a different hue. Providers are by definition businesses making profit and patients come with money. The whole ethos changes, the whole identity of ‘patient’ changes – we become customers and the whole raison d’etre of providers is to attract our custom. The government argues that this will both push up quality AND push down cost but that’s a rather naive and simplistic view.

article-2107897-11F68D4C000005DC-425_468x249                  We all know that real quality costs money. We all equally know the tricks retailers use to attract us into their shops and tempt us to spend more and more. We know the amount of money they spend on slick advertising and fancy packaging of goods that turn out to be the same old thing. And we’ve seen how this tends to increase prices, not bring them down. When the bottom line is profit not patients then its likely patients will be exploited to achieve that profit.  And in this kind of competition it has always been the sharks and the big fish who win. 

The  Monitor regulations go on to stipulate,

“Clause 1 of the licence condition requires the licensee to notify and make information available to patients wherever a patient has a choice of provider under the NHS Constitution or a choice that has been conferred locally by a commissioner…The NHS Constitution also gives patients the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or, where this is not possible, the NHS must take all reasonable steps to offer patients a range of alternative providers.” 

Now we’re getting to the whole point of this blog.

Despite blatantly false claims from the Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt that they are pouring extra money into the NHS*, doctors have confirmed this week at their annual BMA Conference that the NHS is being cut back ‘beyond the bone’ including on the front line – something we were faithfully promised when the Health Bill first raised its ugly head would never happen. In fact, so certain were doctors of this fact that they unanimously gave Hunt a vote of no confidence.

* See (http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/smith-shapps-now-cameron-lies-to-parliament-on-nhs-stats/)

c_71_article_1433663_image_list_image_list_item_0_image-2   Derelict Ancoats Hospital  

As hospitals are starved of cash they begin to miss targets and find themselves in breach of their licence (Monitor are already investigating three NHS hospitals for this)* and risk closure. As their waiting times for treatment get longer, if they want to avoid breaches for missing targets. and in order to comply with the Condition C1 shown above. they are sending their patients to private hospitals for their procedures and paying for this from their already stretched budgets. This is a zero sum game because by paying for more and more private treatment to avoid sanctions over targets NHS hospitals will eventually drain their budgets and be sanctioned anyway for going over budget – Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is currently being investigated by Monitor for doing just that.

*Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Source: Monitor.

beaumont  Beaumont BMI Hospital

Yesterday I saw for myself the way the new Monitor regulations are beginning to bite in my own NHS Foundation Trust. My partner, Neil, was on the waiting list for a minor surgical procedure and last week he received an unexpected letter from a nearby private hospital, The Beaumont BMI Hospital in Bolton. It informed him that he had an appointment with them for his surgical procedure at 12 pm on 25th June. It also reassured him that the treatment would be paid for by the Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Hospital (RBH), and a family member would need to accompany him to take him home after the procedure.

So  yesterday we duly arrived in time for his appointment. The hospital is an impressive old building set in its own large grounds and from the outside looks well maintained. The waiting room and reception area was small and comfortable, but not ostentatiously furnished. We sat down to wait for Neil to be called in for his appointment….And waited…and waited…

I read all four of the glossy magazines, Neil read the only newspaper provided, the Daily Mail, from cover to cover. During this time several more patients had turned up. I overheard one of them say loudly to the receptionist she couldn’t understand why RBH had sent her there. It transpired that the rapidly growing number of people filling up the small waiting area  were all NHS patients. The receptionist was beginning to look flustered.

download (1)      After we’d been been waiting for around 45 minutes an orderly approached the receptionist and began reading names from a list and telling her which rooms were being allocated to which patient. We heard him mention that Neil was down for room 19. He disappeared and returned ten minutes later and spoke to the receptionist again. This time he had Neil down for room 30. Meanwhile in the waiting area people were getting restless. A bored child was running around and this was obviously not making the receptionist happy. The orderly returned looking harassed and informed the receptionist of yet more room changes. This time Neil was allocated room 32 and finally we were asked to go with him up to the treatment floor.

Because I have difficulty with stairs due to a disability we asked to use the lift. He said this was fine but warned us the lift ‘played up, sometimes’ and needed some maintenance that never seemed to happen. Thankfully, it worked OK that time. We arrived at room 32 and the orderly opened the door to find it was still occupied by a patient. He apologised and said he’d find a nurse and see which room he should us in.

images (4)        A nurse came along just then and the embarrassed orderly stopped her and asked where he should put us. Without even glancing at us she told him  a tad tetchily that she had no idea and hurried off. The poor orderly apologised again and began opening the doors to other rooms until he found one empty. He went in search of someone else to check if he could put us in there and eventually it was sorted out.

By this time the orderly, who was actually a decent man trying to do his best for us, was visibly fed up and confided that they were finding it hard to cope with the influx of NHS work. As he explained the facilities in the room he also made a point of saying “I shouldn’t tell you this but be aware if you use the phone in here they put a massive charge on it and bill you for it when you leave”, the implication being that his employers were not averse to exploiting their customers.

It was now 1.15 pm. Last time Neil had this procedure done at RBH it was done within half an hour of his appointment time. He was looking a bit mithered because he always gets nervous on these occasions and all the waiting was obviously getting to him.

A few minutes later a woman from the kitchen came in with a menu. Neil apparently wouldn’t be discharged until he’d had something to eat and drink so he had to choose something from the menu. This was included in the treatment cost. The menu choice wasn’t spectacular but comparable to that I remember from a stay in the RBH a few years ago. Neil ordered a sandwich and coffee.

download (2)                   Two nurses came to do the paperwork and record Neil’s blood pressure etc. He asked them how long he’d be waiting for the procedure. They couldn’t tell him because the consultant doing the procedure hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet. He was still over at RBH finishing his list there. In the end it was 3.30 pm before Neil finally had his procedure. When I returned to pick him up he was eating his sandwich. It was a bog standard ham sandwich with the crusts cut off and with a few bits of salad leaves surrounding it. The only difference to an NHS ham sandwich was it was served on a posh plate. I also noticed that the cotton gown he was wearing was exactly the same as those used in the NHS everywhere. Ah well, there goes another myth exploded!

images  Royal Bolton NHS Hospital

The consultant came to talk to us afterwards to explain his findings and answer any questions. During the course of the conversation the consultant expressed his concerns about the NHS reforms saying that already doctors were finding the fragmented system was causing them huge problems with the continuity of patients’ records. He wants to see Neil again in six weeks and said he would insist this happened at RBH where he was able to conduct his clinic more efficiently.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions from this story. Its clear that some potentially disruptive changes are already afoot and private hospitals like the Beaumont are possibly going to see an increase in NHS patients coming through their doors. It was obvious even from this short glimpse that good as these hospitals may be, they are not equipped for large numbers of patients. This is one reason why they have been able to maintain standards. One potential positive outcome from this, given what I witnessed, may be that the Secretary of State will be forced to admit that the public sector model is not at the heart of our problems, since the private sector also struggles to cope with a sudden high demand.

A properly staffed  and well integrated NHS with real investment behind it and years of collective experience CAN give us the quality healthcare everyone in this country deserves. I’m more convinced of that now than I’ve ever been.

Massive protest against NHS privatisation planned for Conservative’s September Party Conference in Manchester

images

Unions who represent millions of people in the UK are planning to confront the Tories over privatisation of the NHS at this year’s Conservative Party Conference to be held in Manchester on September 29th.

The three biggest unions in the country – Unite, Unison and the GMB – have announced that they will be at the forefront of  community protests to highlight the public’s increasing concern at the piecemeal dismantlement of the NHS for the benefit of companies, such as Virgin Care and big US private health provider HCA.

download (1)They want to make it clear to the public that this year’s Conference is being bankrolled by the very private healthcare companies that stand to benefit from Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill 2012 and will be demanding an immediate halt to the handing out of contracts to these companies who put shareholders before patients.

In a joint statement calling for the mass rally, the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said,

download (2)               “The people of this country do not want a health service run by the same global boardrooms that have brought misery to every other public service, such as the energy industry, that they have got their hands on. 
  
  Unite Logo          “We pay for this NHS to be different; to serve the public, and to ward off the twin fears of illness and poverty.  There is simply no place in our health service for business to profit from the misfortunes of others. This is the message that will ring around Manchester on 29 September. 
  
 GMB_logo                   “We will be demanding that a future Labour government repeals the act as a top priority – and this should be a warning to potential private companies not to bid for contracts. 
This issue will haunt this government all the way to the ballot box in 2015  when voters will see through the false promise that David Cameron made in 2010 that the NHS would be ‘safe’ in Tory hands.”

The unions say that they will work with the Trades Union Congress and its affiliates to ensure the full weight of the trade union movement stands squarely behind this landmark event.

images (1)     Neither the Tories nor their Liberal-Democrat co-conspirators declared their intention to privatise the NHS in their 2010 general election manifestos a fact that has angered millions who see it as an attack on democracy.

We’ve been promised a referendum on EU membership should any significant treaty changes occur yet NO opportunity whatsoever to vote on the fundamental changes happening to the most important public organisation in Britain, the NHS, on which every man,woman and child in this country relies for their health and well-being. 

images (3)   The Labour-affiliated unions also advised leader Ed Miliband that he must put reversing the so-called “reform” programme high up his party’s agenda,

“We will be demanding that a future Labour government repeals the Act as a top priority – and this should be a warning to potential private companies not to bid for contracts. It’s equally important that Labour isn’t let off the hook either. Much of the demolition programme for the health service started under the last government and has been seized on by the Con-Dems.”

Geoff Martin Pro-NHS campaign Health Emergency chairman also  warned Labour to take the issue seriously and not simply resort to playing political games,

“Grandstanding on the back of public outrage at the attack on the NHS would be pure political opportunism” he said.

download              So it looks like Cameron and his Demolition crew can expect a very loud and angry reception when they set foot up North in Manchester in September.

Lets make it one he’ll never forget!

Source: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/134466

‘Hounded heroine’? The Cure the NHS myth

This post by skwalker has generated a great deal of heated debate. Its well worth a read. The tone of some of the comments seem to me to confirm what skwalker is saying in this post.

The SKWAWKBOX

This won’t be an easy post to write, but recent events have persuaded me that it can’t be avoided. Some nasty stuff has been going on, and the only right response to bullies is to stand up to them.

Julie Bailey, the founder of ‘Cure the NHS’ (Cure), is treated as almost a saint by most of the media, who are currently portraying her as a poor, ‘hounded’ heroine who is being so viciously victimised by the people of Stafford who are outraged by her righteous campaign that she is being driven out of town, forced to leave in order to avoid supposed ‘threats’.

But the reality is somewhat different from its portrayal.

Those who follow this blog will know that I’ve had more than one run-in with Cure. Just in recent weeks, Cure supporters on Twitter (who have blocked me to try to prevent any response) have tried to…

View original post 2,388 more words

Jeremy Hunt – Can we trust a man who once claimed 1 pence for a telephone call on his parliamentary expenses with the NHS?

The Secretary of State for Health has many skeletons in his cupboard. The man who back in 2009  vowed to be the most transparent MP his West Surrey constituents had ever had presents himself as a mild-mannered, quietly spoken man of honesty and integrity. During the Leveson furore he always gave me the impression of being slightly bemused that anyone could accuse such a ‘nice’ man as him of wrongdoing, despite all the evidence that he lied to Parliament and was more than willing to let Murdoch have his way.

Teflon-coated Jeremy has a habit of attracting controversy for his ‘mistakes’ and an amazing ability to wriggle out of them with his job intact.

For instance, back when the expenses scandal hit Westminster courtesy of the Daily Telegraph in addition to having to pay back a considerable sum for mortgage interest claims he was also taken to task about a number of dodgy claims for incidental expenses, according to reporter Joanna Till writing for the Go Surrey   website in 2009. (http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2053219_mp_jeremy_hunt_lifts_the_lid_on_his_expenses)

Here’s the list:-

1p for a 12-second phone call to his own office – October 2005.

2p for a 20-second phone call – May 2005.

19p for an A4 divider – September 2007.

£1.42 on one Prittstick – March 2006.

£3.12 on sweets, including 27p on chewing gum in March 2008 November 2007, 35p on ‘merchandise’ in April 2007, 98p on two ‘merchandises’ in January 2008, and £1.25 on three ‘merchandises’ in September 2007.

£3.81 on calling 118118 seven times, and more than an hour making 37 calls to a ‘special service’ 0845 number – August to October 2005.

£26.08 in House of Fraser in Victoria, including £2.88 for a ‘wood mug tree’ and £15.00 for a ‘chrome biscuit’ – August 2005.

£26.96 on coffee and £12.90 on tea – March 2006.

£28.50 in Habitat in Chelsea, on six £2 mugs, £2 on a ‘chai tea measure spoon horn’, £7 on an oval bread basket, £5 on a pack of six espresso cups and saucers, and £2.50 on a ‘small orange tray’ – August 2005.

£92.50 at John Lewis on Oxford Street on five candles worth £15 each, a flask costing £9.50, £18 on a ‘pump pot’, and £15.90 on batteries – March 2006.

£139 for a hotel bill – rejected in October 2007 because he has a second home.

£1,892.33 on kitting out his constituency office in Hindhead, including £545 on Venetian blinds and £916.50 on painting.

£3,179.75 on stamps, envelopes and labels – May 2007.

£9,837.10 on his Hindhead premises, including £2,688 on carpets and almost £700 on signs.

As usual, in public Jeremy said the ridiculous claims for the 1p and 2p phone calls  were ‘clerical errors’ or ‘mistakes’. For a man who graduated from Oxford with a First in PPE and so, presumably, who wasn’t at the back of the queue when brains were given out, he seems to make an awful lot of careless mistakes.

Despite these unfortunate slips with his expense claims, however, Jeremy publicly insisted that he was an honest man. But you have to wonder what he’s saying in private when some of his best mates  go to the lengths of having a special T shirt printed for his stag weekend in Barcelona with the words “Its All On Expenses!” emblazoned on the front. When asked about this – in public again  – he went into Right Honourable mode and assured us that he refused to wear it because he thought it was in ‘poor taste’.

So what else do we know about Mr Hunt’s impeccable character?

Some of you might remember the time he caused a bit of a stir back in 2010, just after the election when he became Culture Secretary.

The Observer reported “raised eyebrows” when Hunt’s former parliamentary assistant, Naomi Gummer, had been given a job within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on a fixed-term civil service contract after Hunt had proposed departmental cuts of 35–50 per cent. The head of the Public and Commercial Services Union questioned Hunt’s motives saying, “Political independence of the civil service is a fundamental part of our democracy and we would be deeply concerned if this was being put at risk by nepotism and privilege.” Gummer is the daughter of a Conservative life peer, Lord Chadlington, who was a director of Hotcourses between 2000 and 2004.

Hotcourses is Jeremy’s educational company which reputedly made him a multimillionaire. Given his behaviour over the Murdoch bid it would seem that Jeremy, despite his Oxford education, repeatedly has difficulty recognising the need for a line to be drawn between narrow party political interests, private vested interests and the duties of a Secretary of State. And this is the man we’re being asked to trust with our NHS!

And there’s more.

Mr Hunt is also a blatant tax avoider, in spite of all the Cameron and Osborne rhetoric about cracking down on the wealthy who enjoy the benefits of living in the UK but sneakily hide their millions away in tax havens so they don’t have to contribute very much at all.

In April 2012, immediately following David Cameron’s statement that he would not associate himself with anyone who carried out “aggressive tax avoidance”, the Daily Telegraph disclosed that Hunt had reduced his tax bill by over £100,000 by receiving dividends from Hotcourses in the form of property which was promptly leased back to the company. The dividend in specie was paid just before a 10% rise in dividend tax and Hunt was not required to pay stamp duty on the property.

I guess he had insider knowledge about that one.

So, what’s the verdict? Can we really trust Jeremy Hunt with the NHS?