Health Secretary under fire again

  • Hunt receives criticism after backing the reduction in the legal time to have abortions, following the attack by Andy Burnham on his policy changes to the NHS and Health and Social Care act.

    Newly appointed health secretary, Jeremy Hunt has come under fire this weekend after backing a reduction in the legal time limit for women to have abortions, from 24 to 12 weeks.

    Burnham wants a ‘referendum on health'; accuses Hunt of not showing an interest in the NHS as £250m of services put out to tender.

    Hunt's comments, which came on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week, have been heavily criticised from all sides, with Prime Minister David Cameron forced to distance himself from his health secretary's personal views, and stress that the government currently had no plans to alter the legislation surrounding abortion.

    He did however stress that although he did not agree with the health secretary's position he did think the date should be brought forward slightly and that Hunt was entitled to his own opinion, adding: "He is a member of parliament, he is absolutely entitled to hold an individual view".

    Jeremy Hunt was also criticised last week by Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary who has spoken out against the NHS reforms and pledged to repeal the health act, calling for much greater integration of NHS services.

    Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Mr Burnham said he wanted to make the next general election a ‘referendum on health'. He warned that hundreds of NHS community services worth around £250m had been put out to tender, inviting intense interest from the private sector and accused Hunt of not showing an interest in the NHS:

    At least 37 private bidders - and yes, friends of Dave amongst the winners. Not the choice of GPs, who we were told would be in control. But a forced privatisation ordered from the top.

    It's hard to be a shadow when you're up against the Invisible Man. Hunt Jeremy - the search is on for the missing health secretary.

    A month in the job but not a word about thousands of nursing jobs lost. Not one word about crude rationing, older people left without essential treatment.

    Mr Burnham said that he wanted the health system to work as one and get local authorities involved in caring for the individual.

    Burnham also called for “full integration” between NHS and local authorities to improve health and social care services:

    If we can find a better solution to paying for care, one day we might be able to replace the cruel ‘dementia taxes’ we have at the moment and build a system meeting all of a person's needs - mental, physical, social - rooted in NHS values.

    Responding to Mr Burnham's speech, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said:

    Delivering genuine whole-person care is of course what we would all aspire to.

    The Health and Social Care Act takes us further in a market-based direction, opening up the likelihood of fragmentation rather than collaboration.

    What we don't know from Andy Burnham's speech is how he intends to achieve this. Yet more, major structural change, would be hugely disruptive, and particularly when the NHS is likely to face considerable financial pressure for some time still to come.

     

     

     

     

     

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