Vote of no confidence in Hunt from top medics

LEADING doctors have passed a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt with an overwhelming majority amid swingeing criticism of the Government’s controversial health reforms.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

The move at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual representative meeting yesterday comes less than a year after Mr Hunt took the post on.

The BMA also warned calls for doctors to provide all healthcare services 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year were “ridiculous”. Dr Mark Porter, the chairman of council at the BMA, condemned suggestions the NHS should operate a seven-day supermarket-style operation for all services.

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Presenting the motion of no confidence at the Edinburgh meeting yesterday, Dr Jacky Davis said the Health Secretary was leading the Government’s “ideological attack on the service and on staff”. The union, which represents more than 150,000 doctors and medical students, also voted no confidence in his predecessor Andrew Lansley at last year’s meeting.

Dr Davis said the NHS had been “wrecked” by the Government, adding: “Leading the attack (on the health service) has been the Health Secretary. His main purpose seems to be criticising the service and undermining the staff.

“He is at the forefront of a new political blame game, blaming frontline NHS staff for the predictable chaos resulting from his Government’s reforms and cuts.

“The Health Secretary is ready to blame anything and anyone rather than put the blame where it really belongs – with his Government and their cuts, closures, rationing and the debacle of NHS 111 and most of all of course the infamous mess of the Health and Social Care Act.

“We are watching a good service brought to its knees by vandals in Westminster.”

Dr Porter added: “The traditional thing to say is that we should focus on the politics and not personalities.

“We have policy from 2012 that we have no confidence in the then secretary of state. I recall sitting out in the audience at that time and being told ‘be careful about whom you have confidence in because the guy who follows may not be any better’, and of course we’ve seen exactly that.

“This present coalition Government goes out of its way to act against the interests of patients.

“To be honest I think whoever is Secretary of State – it could be anybody – and they would be the subject of this year’s no confidence motion, which is rapidly in danger of becoming a BMA tradition, but some traditions are comfortable and should be maintained.”

Representatives also carried a motion saying the health reforms were “bad for patients, bad for the NHS and bad for the public”.

They called for Ministers to repeal the controversial Health and Social Care Act.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “It is completely right that the Health Secretary demands the best possible care for patients.

“Following the findings of the Francis Inquiry and other recent reports, it is clear that the culture of the NHS needs to change and it is disappointing that the BMA union still doesn’t accept that.”

Dr Porter also criticised the idea of doctors providing all healthcare services 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year.

In his first speech to the meeting as chairman, he said: “Like many of you I work nights and weekends as well, at times when much of the private sector is fast asleep and Ministers are tucked up soundly in their beds.

“We all want urgent care at weekends and evenings to be of the same high standards as 
patients can expect on weekdays.

“But the calls we sometimes hear for a Tesco NHS, full service, 24/7, are just ridiculous when the health service can barely afford its current model.”

He also said that the NHS was “struggling to cope” with the overhaul.