Tag Archives: Secretary of State for Health

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

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
















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?