Letters July 28: Questions for Jeremy Hunt over NHS claims

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From: Sandy Glossop, Hawksley Rise, Sheffield.

REGARDING the present debate about the need to improve patient outcomes in the NHS, I am a firm believer that, like all organisations, the NHS has to embrace a culture of “continuous improvement”.

However, I would like to see the detail of the analysis behind the “6,000 avoidable deaths a year” figure as I think the causes may be many and varied. Encouraging the public to believe that making consultants work weekends will, on its own, solve this is both misleading and simplistic. Perhaps we should carry out some objective benchmarking with our European partners to see how they tackle this problem and what lessons we can learn from them.

My experience of managing in a large organisation is that improvement rarely comes from a “silver bullet” solution but from the cumulative effect of many smaller initiatives. Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron need to heed the words of the late H L Menken of The Baltimore Sun: “There is always a simple solution to every difficult human problem, neat, plausible... And always wrong!”

It is deeply worrying that the Health Secretary appears to be unaware of, or chooses to ignore for his own political reasons, just how many consultants already work at a weekend.

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