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Ministers could help the patients dying in NHS hospital corridors right now – they just choose not to

With NHS staff being forced to witness our patients dying in corridors, in cupboards, on floors and in stranded ambulances, we can only thank our lucky stars that the country’s second most powerful politician is the man who last year published Zero: Eliminating Unnecessary Deaths in a Post-Pandemic NHS.

Because the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, cannot possibly stand back and permit these crisis conditions to continue, can he? He knows better than anyone – having written 320 pages on precisely this fact – that avoidable deaths are the very worst kinds of death, the ones that sicken families and clinicians to their core.

Let’s remind ourselves of how strongly Hunt feels about this subject. The blurb of his book, published only last May, rings out with moral righteousness. “How many avoidable deaths are there in the NHS every week?” he asks. “150. What figure should we aim for? Zero. Mistakes happen. But nobody deserves to become a statistic in an NHS hospital. That’s why we need to aim for zero.”

He even offers a road map towards achieving that end that, unusually for a politician, centres on radical candour. Don’t lie. Don’t deflect. Don’t spin. Don’t cover up. Be honest and open about mistakes and failures because this is the first, essential step to fixing them.

To the collective despair of frontline staff, the government’s actual, as opposed to rhetorical, response to the humanitarian crisis gripping the NHS is a perverse inversion of everything the chancellor purports to hold dear.

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Source: The Guardian, 6 January 2023


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