The new Prime Minister needs to ditch ‘Stalinist’ central targets, exempt doctors from pension rules and give every patient their own GP, to avoid a looming winter crisis, Jeremy Hunt has said.
The leader of the House of Commons health and social care committee, and former Prime Minister hopeful, took to Twitter yesterday to set out his suggestions for a six-point list of emergency actions.
The former longest-serving health secretary said this comes as ‘the NHS has been absent from this leadership campaign’ but that, ‘after energy bills’, the ‘biggest issue facing the new Prime Minister will be a looming winter crisis’.
‘Judging by the state of ambulance and A&E services over summer, this winter will be the toughest ever,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘Staff shortages and morale have never been worse. If the NHS continues this spiral of decline with ambulances, A&Es & GP surgeries all in serious crisis, we’ll see avoidable deaths mount up this winter.’
Amid his proposed solutions, Mr Hunt said the NHS should ‘move back to the system where everyone has their own GP rather than just being attached to a surgery’.
Referring to Norwegian research from last year, he said: ‘A study showed a 25% cut in mortality and 30% drop in hospital visits for people who saw the same GP.’
But he pointed out that ‘keeping our promise to recruit 6,000 more GPs will help achieve this’.
Previous health secretary Sajid Javid had already admitted that the Government is ‘not on track’ to deliver on the manifesto promise, and Mr Hunt told Pulse in April he holds himself responsible for failing to deliver on his own pledge to boost GP numbers while he was in the job.
Mr Hunt also said the country’s new leaders should ‘ditch the Stalinist centralism that has given the NHS more targets than any healthcare system in the world’, and ‘replace national targets with easily accessible data that allows everyone to compare performance’.
‘CQC Ofsted-style ratings work well,’ he added.
Earlier this year, Mr Hunt told the Pulse Live conference that he thinks that the NHS ‘should look at scrapping QOF’, to allow more ‘freedom and flexibility’ over how money is spent in general practice. However
Other proposed actions included ‘a mass overseas recruitment drive for doctors and nurses as a temporary, short-term lever’; an ‘immediate exemption’ for doctors from public sector pension rules ‘which are currently forcing them to retire in their fifties in alarming numbers’; and making ‘flexible working automatic across the NHS so we don’t drive staff with young families to become locums’.
It is a ‘national scandal’ that GPs are having to work less or leave their jobs altogether due to NHS pension rules, a report from the Commons health committee concluded last month.
Former health secretaries Mr Hunt and Mr Javid were both knocked out of the race to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister last month, after failing to get sufficient backing from fellow Conservative MPs.
NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard rebuffed Mr Hunt’s suggestions for individual patients list whilst giving evidence to the health committee in June. She suggested improving continuity of care does ‘not require contractual change’.
Jeremy Hunt’s workforce solutions in full
- ‘A mass overseas recruitment drive for doctors & nurses as a temporary, short-term lever – allowing [doctors] from countries with good medical education systems like Canada and Germany to be green listed so they don’t have to resit pointless additional exams’;
- ‘Grant an immediate exemption for doctors to public sector pension rules which are currently forcing them to retire in their fifties in alarming numbers.’
- ‘Make flexible working automatic across the NHS so we don’t drive staff with young families to become locums or agency nurses, which is often the only way they can juggle work and home life.’
- ‘Ditch the Stalinist centralism that has given the NHS more targets than any healthcare system in the world: replace national targets with easily accessible data that allows everyone to compare performance (CQC Ofsted style ratings work well).’
- ‘Move back to the system where everyone has their own GP rather than just being attached to a surgery. A study showed a 25% cut in mortality & 30% drop in hospital visits for people who saw the same GP (keeping our promise to recruit 6000 more GPs will help achieve this).’
- ‘Hospitals are full of people who can’t be discharged due to social care issues, mainly staff shortages. Local authorities need help now to boost pay rates for care workers, as they’re currently losing them in droves to the retail and hospitality sectors.’
Source: Jeremy Hunt/Twitter