Yesterday in the Mail Hunt made at least two completely bogus claims;
1. He ‘won’ the judicial review into imposition and gained High Court backing for the junior contract
2. Post Brexit he is going to remove foreign doctors and replace them with ‘homegrown’ trainees
There’s been enough of heated opinion lately- so let’s just serve cold hard facts.
1. The Justice 4 Health team took Hunt to court on three premises- that a) he does not have power to impose the contract b) that he acted without clarity and transparency and c) he acted irrationally. Despite a lot of press spin saying Hunt won, he actually just dodged the issue, by claiming that he never imposed and ‘no junior doctor’ thought that he was. As in last week’s blog here is the many instances that Hunt said he was.
The case pushed Hunt to clarify in law that he isn’t imposing the contract, simply passing the buck to local hospitals. The judge also found he could’ve acted with less ambiguity but found it hard to demonstrate the high legal threshold for irrationality.
So far from ‘winning the case’, Hunt was forced back from claiming falsely he was imposing leaving local negotiations with hospitals now a real possibility.
Secondly, Hunt’s plan to replace foreign doctors with ‘homegrown’ talent is as laughable as it is xenophobic.
We are already in the midst of a workforce crisis- applications to medical school dropped 13.5% in the last 5 years, and increasing numbers of junior doctors are leaving training and the country. On top of this, the existing doctor workforce increasingly cover the work of two or more doctors- 7 in 10 doctors work in departments where at least one doctor is missing, 2/5 of consultant posts are unfilled, and 96% of doctors work in wards with nurse shortages.
To add insult to injury, health education England, the body that funds training of so-called ‘homegrown’ talent, has had its budget slashed by £1 billion next year– all on Hunt’s watch.
Now around 25% of the doctor workforce are non-UK, and 10-15% of all NHS staff.
We are well below the European average in hospital beds per person and doctors per person in the NHS as we are- yet Jeremy Hunt plans to push away up to a quarter of the workforce, cut the training budget to train less doctors who are already doing two or more doctors work, and make no plans to actually address the drop in ‘homegrown’ talent already, a direct repercussion of Hunt’s own morale plummeting war against the profession.
Those are the facts. Unfortunately if you read the Mail comments you will see why Hunt would ignore them; there’s a segment of the populace that laps up this anti-immigrant posturing, even if it’s completely insane as an actual plan.
This is everything wrong with Hunts tenure as Health Secretary- politics before policy before patients. The NHS will only continue to suffer if it goes unchallenged.