‘Unfair’ to criticise NHS England boss over growing health crisis – Dorrell

Published: Thursday 12th January 2017 by The News Editor

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A former Tory health secretary has hit out at the “unfair” criticism of the boss of NHS England reportedly meted out by Theresa May’s senior aides amid the growing crisis in the health service.

Stephen Dorrell also said the Government should be focusing on the problems on the ground rather than engaging in “high-profile” discussions over the cash that is being spent.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens went against the Prime Minister over the state of NHS funding by telling MPs it is “stretching it” to say it got more money than it asked for.

He said an extra £10 billion was being made available to NHS England over the course of six years but overall the health service had “got less” than set out in its five-year plan.

The comments contradict those of Mrs May, who has insisted the NHS got all it wanted in the funding settlement.

Earlier this week, the Times reported that “key members” of the Prime Minister’s team have used internal meetings to accuse Mr Stevens of being unenthusiastic and unresponsive.

The newspaper claimed staff have also been irritated at his “political” interventions, including urging ministers to pay for social care by cutting pensioner benefits – allegations N o 10 said it did not recognise.

Mr Dorrell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I do think it is unfair on him, yes, because he’s made it clear from the beginning, he set out, he is the author of the five-year forward view, he is the author of the Government’s policy of the health service as part of a broad range of public services.

“He’s been the strong advocate of the need to integrate to change the way we deliver health and care in our communities in order to deliver more joined-up services with proper emphasis on care as well as on the essential elements of acute medicine.”

The NHS Confederation chairman said the Government had “rightly” put an emphasis on independent inspection and regulation of the NHS to assess the quality of its services.

“When the evidence that those organisations produce demonstrates we are delivering less good service than we want to deliver to the people who rely on those services, I think Government should be addressing the evidence about what is happening on the ground rather than engaging in a rather high-profile discussion about, frankly, what sound to the public like telephone numbers of public expenditure,” he added.

Shree Datta, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at King’s College Hospital, said winter pressures, funding and changes in rotas for junior doctors was a “lethal combination”.

She told Today: “The biggest question I face on a Monday morning is whether I will be able to perform 50% of my operations, or in fact 25%, if at all.

“Repeatedly, what we are finding is that we are seeing patients who have been cancelled once or twice beforehand.

“I don’t think that I am the only one who is facing those pressures. That’s across the board, across the different specialities, across the different hospitals.”

Richard Kerr, a consultant neurosurgeon and council member of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the NHS had “reached a tipping point”.

He said the situation was as bad as he had known during his 26-year career, adding: “I think the issue is we continue to strive to do all we can all the time, but the workforce has become demoralised from continuing to strive, from continuing to try to achieve targets that seem to be disappearing off into the distance.”

Published: Thursday 12th January 2017 by The News Editor

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