The Health Service Journal has reported that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has scrapped the measurement of NHS Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments until April 2019 – amid the biggest NHS winter crisis in years.
Yes, that’s 2019 – the next time we know how our A&Es are performing, we will no longer be in the European Union, assuming it’s not deferred even further then. That’s how badly and how long the Tories want to hide the A&E crisis they’ve allowed to happen – or inflicted, according to NHS campaigners.
And no wonder, since the increases in A&E waiting times reflect the collapse in NHS performance that began almost the moment that the Tories entered Downing Street:
Hunt floated the idea of partially abandoning the target during the 2016/17 winter crisis and similar measures were proposed as far back as 2010 – but to abandon it completely even outside the winter period is astonishing.
It’s also huge news – or ought to be. Yet various search permutations a few minutes ago for mention of the decision in the mainstream media (MSM) turned up only a single mention – in the Daily Mail:
The Daily Mail is one of the most right-wing ‘MSM’ publications, but it has a curious relationship with the NHS, especially A&Es.
BBC News appears to have been silent. The SKWAWKBOX has heard no reference to it on BBC News, although we haven’t heard every single minute broadcast since the HSJ published the news.
But the BBC website will often mention items the channel ignores. However, the health-section homepage of the BBC News website, as of a few minutes ago, made not a single mention of the move:
The Tories, of course, have form for simply abandoning the measurement of statistics that make them look bad. In 2015, they redefined child poverty when soaring numbers of children in poverty exposed the effects of their policies – although they later rowed back on the decision.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth condemned the move, drawing attention to its significance and to Labour’s commitment to the NHS:
Abandoning the A&E waiting target is a shocking indication of how the Tories are running down our NHS. The fact that NHS bosses are now admitting the four hour A&E target can’t be met is the clearest admission that Tory ministers have failed to give the NHS the funding desperately needs. Let’s be clear, the NHS is in crisis because of eight years of underfunding and cuts imposed by Downing Street.
With the 18 week target for treatment last year effectively abandoned and now the A&E target abandoned for another year, it means that even more sick and critically ill patients will be forced to wait longer and longer for treatment. But with the government marking its own homework , this failure won’t be reported.
Theresa May should be ashamed. Only Labour will give the NHS the money it needs to give patients quality of care.
The Tories slowed down annual NHS funding increases to around a third of the historical norm:
This allowed them – of course – to claim they were increasing NHS funding, while simultaneously the service was being starved of resources to cope with normal increases in population and demand – and with the effects of dramatic government cuts to funding for social care.
But A&E statistics have invariably exposed the effects of Tory policies in a way that spin and slick words can’t hide.
So the Tories have simply stopped recording them – even outside the winter period – for well over a year.
The BBC has been asked to confirm whether it has given any coverage to the decision, but has not yet responded.
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