It takes ten years to train a Consultant or GP doctor and one of the fundamental issues of the NHS is that is completely fails at training enough of them. The system is flawed and the consequences are overrun, overtired and overstretched healthcare workers. As Jeremy said, there is an acute need for structural change. For an acting Health Secretary and Chancellor negotiating a spending round, it is not their priority to assess how many doctors will be within the system in a decades time, and with the cost of training one individual doctor being £250k, the result is market failure. This is a vicious cycle and we continue to act on the present moment, rather than consider what will provide long term benefits. Unless we increase the number of doctors, the number of challenges facing the NHS will only continue to snowball.
Any one of us understands the sheer exhaustion that descends before we even pick up the phone to the doctor. In the knowledge that we are about to embark on an achingly slow process. All very well when it’s a minor headache, a different story when something more foreboding. Doctor after doctor. The outcome is a process far too long, resulting in far too many preventable deaths. This would not be the case if we all had one point of care. Jeremy detailed how we have gone target mad, everything is about reaching the next goal, ticking the next box. Each individual is a mere statistic in the system. Once you exit those revolving doors your tally has been taken. The link between doctor and patient has been lost and that tangible connection is clearly something that the former Health Secretary feels is crucial to bring back.
What was clear from Jeremy is that the NHS needs to develop a culture where doctors feel comfortable with making what are inevitable human mistakes. Doctors are not superhuman and when inescapable errors occur we need to listen, support and not play the blame game. Defensive, critical, guilty. How can we expect positive progress when these toxic traits are all too prevalent? If we actually doubled down on learning from the challenges and mistakes that have been made, then we would make much deeper, lasting and financially beneficial changes.
The NHS is the fifth largest organisation in the world and during his time as Health Secretary Jeremy did make positive changes. He introduced an Ofsted system to rate hospitals, providing a foundation for accountability, and during his time 3 million more patients were using Good or Outstanding rated hospitals. The NHS was born in 1948 with a great vision and we remain proud to have a system where rich or poor, we can all access healthcare. But ultimately, what Jeremy wants to see happen is the NHS to develop to not only be about accessibility, but about providing the safest and highest quality healthcare possible.
All of this having been said, with it being one of the most important political days in the country’s history, the audience still wanted to know whether Jeremy is intending to run for the top job.
“It’s not a secret that I’m seriously considering the possibility of joining 350 MPs in that contest.”
This event was presented in collaboration with the How to Academy.
Praise for Jeremy Hunt’s Zero:
‘Highly readable and engaging … a serious manifesto to improve our most treasured national institution’ – Tony Blair
‘This powerful book is essential reading for everyone who cares about the future of the NHS – even (or especially) those who are sure they’ll disagree with its author’ – Patricia Hewitt, former Health Secretary
‘A deeply moving personal account from the longest serving Health Secretary about what needs to change in the NHS – I wish I had read it when I started out as a doctor’ – Dame Clare Gerada
‘A real understanding of the NHS’s many problems … essential reading for everybody involved in health care’ – Henry Marsh