Another week, another bumbling, insincere apology from the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Despite repeated warnings, Hunt has buried his head in the sand for months on end regarding the problems facing the NHS: a fine British institution that is being decimated before our very eyes by the Conservatives’ inhumane austerity.
This isn’t conjecture or party-bashing thoughtspeak: this is the opinion of the doctors, nurses and frontline staff who are working miracles to hold the flagging service together in spite of a crippling lack of funds and a fundamentally indecent lack of sleep.
Hunt is the master of ‘massaging’ statistics, and he can spin you a yarn that counters any argument suggesting that the medical and mental health care system in this country is deeply flawed. It is why he is one of the most reviled politicians in post today – a fine effort given he is not shy of competition for that dubious honour.
New Year, New Hunt?
But wait, what’s this? Did Jeremy Hunt actually apologise for a case of damning medical neglect this week? You wouldn’t believe it, but his New Year’s resolution must have been to act with a bit more sincerity and goodness.
The Health Secretary made a public apology, via the BBC, to all those who had been affected by, yep, you guessed it, a lack of staff that has ultimately led to hundreds if not thousands of operations to be postponed towards the end of 2017 and into this new year.
The issues came after hospitals were simply unable to cope with the annual influx of patients during the Christmas period, with ‘non urgent’ treatments cancelled until mid-January at the earliest. Good luck telling someone with kidney stones that they are considered ‘non urgent’, Jezza.
“If you are someone whose operation has been delayed I don’t belittle that for one moment, and indeed I apologise to everyone who that has happened to,” were his touching words to those affected.
The indignity of being made to lie in a corridor while bed space is created is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the news being doled out by over-worked paramedics: in many cases, the sick and injured will simply have to make their own way to hospital, with not enough ambulances to cover the increasing number of calls.
Humankind is supposed to be evolving as a species, and yet our standard of medical care has symbolically devolved to standards of 30 years ago….and through no fault of the hard-working staff on the frontline.
You can have some sympathy for Hunt, I suppose. Austerity and budget cuts are foisted upon him from above, and finding ways to lose a few thousand quid are always going to prove problematic in a healthcare system which is being increasingly inhumane by the year.
The Revenge Clause
Not to make light of the genuine human suffering at the heart of this crisis – and the situation regarding the NHS is a crisis, despite what the Tories might tell you, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel for those seeking change.
You may recall back in the summer when Jeremy Hunt was ‘sacked’ by Theresa May, although it turned out rumours of his demise as part of a cabinet reshuffle were greatly exaggerated. He clung on to his job, but now the question resurfaces: for how long?
For those inclined to have a flutter now and again, there is a betting market that has been opened by a few different bookmakers entitled ‘Next Cabinet Minister to Leave Post’. Now, at the minute, Damian Green is the odds-on favourite – it is well documented publicly that he has been fired over those sordid porn claims.
But who follows? The head of the market is interesting, with David Davis priced at 4/1, both Theresa May and Boris Johnson at 6/1, and Hunt down at a generous 18/1.
It’s interesting because you cannot imagine for moment that either May or Davis, our key Brexit negotiator, will leave their posts prior to the completion of the Leave movement in 2010. Boris, while absolutely capable of the kind of buffoonery that would get a man sacked, has survived up until now and is thought to retain the support of large swathes of the Tory party.
Which, by my maths, leaves Hunt approximately 15 months to cling on to his job in order outlast the Prime Minister and her key associate. That’s a big call considering how badly the NHS is messed up right now, and those odds of 18/1 could look very tasty should May inflict another cabinet reshuffle on her colleagues in the summer.