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Private Eye

November 16, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1427
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:55 am

Command and Control

As the son of a Royal Naval commander, Jeremy Hunt was never going to be shy about commanding the NHS. In four years, he has become possibly the most controlling health secretary the NHS has endured. He picked and ‘won’ an entirely avoidably battle with junior doctors by persistently threatening to impose a new contract on them and then arguing in court that imposition was never his intention. The new contract is not being imposed, it is merely the only one being offered. In his conference speech, he pleaded with junior doctors ‘let’s not argue about statistics’ – or rather, who needs science when you can force changes through with ideology? Hunt has at least noted that Britain has fewer doctors per head of the population than 23 of its European neighbours, with gaps in rotas a persistent safety concern. Hunt’s antics may have driven some doctors out of the NHS, so now he is commanding his way out of trouble.

Hunt’s conference announcement to increase the number of doctors in training by ‘up to 1500 a year by 2018’ is welcome, but he didn’t say how it will be funded. The first batch won’t graduate until

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1426
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:53 am

Justice for Health

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has only himself to blame for last week’s High Court challenge from the crowd-funded campaign group Justice for Health. When Hunt declared repeatedly, in Parliament and in public, that he would impose a new job contract on all junior doctors if the majority rejected it, it became vital to ascertain whether he had acted lawfully and has the legal power to impose. His rationale for imposition – based on flawed interpretation of mortality data to support an ill-defined, unplanned, uncosted and unstaffed ‘truly 7 day NHS’ manifesto pledge also deserved legal scrutiny

In two days, five junior doctors and their legal team caused more embarrassment for Hunt than the BMA managed in three years. Hunt was represented by his human shield, Department of Health director general Charlie Massey, who appeared as ill-informed as he was in his disastrous public accounts committee outing (Eye last). Massey claimed staff rota gaps are ‘not a problem’ in the NHS. And yet a timely report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has found that 7 out of 10 doctors in training reported working on a rota with a permanent gap, and 96% reported gaps in nursing

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September 27, 2016

Statement from Prof Terence Stephenson Chair, General Medical Council on the appointment of Charlie Massey as Chief Executive
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 12:08 pm

I wonder if I might clarify the story behind the recruitment of our new Chief Executive, Charlie Massey? (Medicine Balls, Sept 16)

I chaired the appointments panel and I am confident the process we used was rigorous and produced a good result.  Charlie Massey joins us from a long career in the civil service – he has worked for Labour, Coalition and Conservative ministers – the idea that a senior civil servant somehow reflects the views of a particular Minister or administration misunderstands how the civil service works. Our current chief executive’s predecessor was also a civil servant.

The GMC’s Chief Executive’s responsibility is to lead in delivering our strategy, which is set by the organisation’s Council, not by Government. In doing this he will be accountable to me and the other members of Council – half of whom are doctors.  Our independence from government remains vital and we will continue to exercise that independence in the years ahead.

The GMC does not represent doctors or employers and has no role in contracts, manpower planning or determining health service policy. But we are legally responsible for setting and enforcing

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September 19, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1425
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:26 pm

Hunt’s Human Shield

Why are junior doctors so suspicious about the appointment of ‘Charlie’ Massey as chief executive of the General Medical Council? Massey is currently Director General of Acute Care and Workforce at the Department of Health, working closely with health secretary Jeremy Hunt on the workforce implications of the junior doctors’ contract and Hunt’s vision of ‘a truly 7 day NHS’, in the absence of  any extra staffing and funding, or indeed a clear definition, plan and evidence base.

Massey came a cropper when he appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in February to reveal the Government had very limited data and no dedicated funding for its 7 day plans.  Massey had no idea what the manpower implications were for the policy, nor indeed what the current staffing situation was in the NHS. Massey and the DH were described by the PAC as ‘flying blind’, powered only by the wind of the government’s vacuous election pledges. The DH had no readily accessible data on staff vacancy rates, limited data on course completion rates, limited data on leaver rates and no data on temporary staffing. There was no evidence that the proposed contract changes could be

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1424
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:16 pm

Striking Alternatives

Do junior doctors have an alternative to more strike action, which the BMA is currently planning? Some feel that the reappointment of Jeremy Hunt as health secretary and the government’s intransigence in trying to force through a ‘cost neutral’ extended 7 day NHS service based on deliberate falsification of the evidence leaves them with no alternative. Others fear the BMA will flounder. As one ‘senior’ junior doctor put it: ‘I’m not striking again. The BMA agreed to this contract yet now calls us to strike again because we disagreed with its own recommendations.’ MD is not a member of the BMA, because of its tendency to shaft and silence NHS whistle-blowers, but unless it can blow the whistle relentlessly on why contract imposition is more harmful to patients than more strikes, it will lose public support and fail.

So what are the alternatives? Justice for Health – a social justice movement founded by five junior doctor activists – have secured a full, expedited Judicial Review hearing in the High Court on September 19 and 20 to challenge health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s power to impose a contract on junior doctors.  It has also successfully challenged Hunt’s exorbitant demands

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