HEALTH Secretary Hunt is urging the NHS in England to reduce the number of serious mistakes being made and save 6,000 lives over the next three years by NHS staff and NHS Trusts ‘Signing up for Safety’.
NHS staff and NHS users will be furious that what is still the safest health service in the world is being faulted, attacked and slandered in this way by a Health Secretary and a government that is completing £20bn of NHS cuts by 2015!
It is making this massive ‘saving’ that has wreaked havoc in the NHS, and seen thousands of nurses and other vital NHS workers sacked, and A&Es and Maternity units either closed or marked for closure up and down the country.
You cannot have this level of cuts and now closures of A&E and maternity units, and even whole hospitals, without health care suffering. The responsibility for this rests with Health Secretary Hunt and his government not with the NHS or NHS staff.
The best way to ‘Sign up for Safety’ would be for the NHS Secretary to restore all of the cuts and reopen the closed A&Es such as at Chase Farm, whose loss has already cost lives. This Hunt will not do since he is determined to cut, close and privatise the NHS out of existence, while blaming the NHS for the crisis that he and his government are creating.
Indeed Hunt is so determined to push through savage cuts and closures that he has piloted through the House of Commons the Health Care Bill whose Clause 119 will allow him to close entire hospitals with the minimum of notice.
In fact Hunt brought in this bill after the judiciary decided that his attempt to close the A&E and the Maternity units at Lewisham hospital, to make up for the ‘losses’ that were being made by other NHS hospitals in the area, was illegal.
So now the NHS Secretary has acquired dictatorial powers to cut and close hospitals, which even the judiciary drew back from. He is at the same time parading his concerns about NHS Safety!
Hunt’s push for ‘safety’ includes the call to ‘Sign up for Safety’. It will be voluntary and reliant on individual trusts identifying how many mistakes they make and coming up with plans to reduce them by half.
The drive is being accompanied by the introduction of a duty of candour compelling the NHS to be open and honest with patients about mistakes. Hunt says the NHS will be recruiting 5,000 safety champions when actually what is needed is tens of thousands more nurses!
Under Hunt these Safety Action for England Teams will become just another means of indicting hospitals that have been failed by his policies so that they can be closed.
Even Labour’s shadow health minster Jamie Reid has commented: ‘The government is failing to learn the lessons of the Francis Review – having handed out P45s to thousands of nurses and frontline staff.’
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The safety of the people in our care should be at the centre of everything that the NHS does and our NHS is one of the safest health services in the world. However, I worry that I have heard this before from governments without any real progress being made.
‘Safety is about having the right numbers of staff and high performing teams working together to deliver the best care, and this is crucial if we are to deliver safe maternity care.
‘Safety also needs NHS staff being treated properly with trusts promoting open, honest and caring cultures if they are to get the best out of them; you can only have candour if staff feel their concerns will be listened to, they are treated with compassion and that they will be given the support they need.’
The only way to a safer NHS is through restoring all of the cuts and closures and increasing the NHS budget. The only way that this can be done is by the trade unions defending the NHS through bringing down the coalition government and bringing in a workers government and socialism.