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Hunt praises GPs for ‘extraordinary dedication’

He insists Lansley's reforms are brave, right and will make NHS stronger

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has praised GPs for their ‘extraordinary dedication’ to the NHS, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham yesterday.

The health secretary said that NHS success depends on the energy, ideas and commitment of thousands of frontline NHS staff, not just on ministers and mandarins. And he praised the commitment of doctors, nurses, managers and professional staff, whom he credits for delivering “brilliant results over the last 2 years: long waits cut from nearly 20,000 to just 3000; hospital-acquired infections down; mixed sex wards nearly eliminated; access to cancer drugs up; and access to NHS dentistry up by more than a million”.

Jeremy Hunt insisted that his predecessor’s reforms are essential if the NHS and social care system are to cope with the challenges they face, such as caring for an ageing population and improving survival from cancer and other disease. He told delegates that Andrew Lansley’s reforms “are brave, they are right and they will make our NHS stronger”.

He vigorously defended increased competition within the NHS, arguing that this wasn’t against the principles of its founder. He said: “Nye Bevan’s vision wasn’t about monopoly provision. It was about universal provision. And to deliver it we must understand the difference between the two.”

But the BMA said that collaboration should be at the heart of the NHS. Chair of council Dr Mark Porter said: “It’s very welcome to hear the new Health Secretary praise the dedication of doctors and other NHS staff.

“We also agree with him on the massive importance of meeting the challenges posed to the NHS by the ageing population. But elderly care in particular requires a joined-up, collaborative approach. The changes currently being implemented in the NHS in England will generate more competition and more fragmentation.

“Mr Hunt says he wants to tap in to the ideas of frontline staff. We hope he will listen to us when we say that allowing us to work collaboratively, not in competition, is the best way to achieve the aspirations he has set out.”

Mr Hunt went on to call for Britain to be among the best in Europe at dealing with dementia, and also made commitments on reforming the way care is paid for. An Alzheimer’s Society spokesman responded: “Dementia is the biggest challenge facing our health and care system today … To lead an all-out fight-back against dementia we need more funding for research, improvements in the quality of dementia care and a funding system that is both fair and sustainable. We also need a radical step change in attitudes and the way we treat people with dementia.”

Picture credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

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