The NHS’s top doctor believes that Jeremy Hunt’s row with junior doctors has “derailed” the government’s push to turn the NHS into a seven-day service.
Prof Sir Bruce Keogh also signalled his unhappiness with the health secretary’s controversial decision to impose a new contract on the 45,000 junior doctors in England, calling it “one of the saddest days I have seen in the NHS”.
Keogh also rejected Hunt’s key justification for forcing all doctors below consultant level to accept new terms, that more of them need to work at weekends to improve the care of patients.
Keogh – a long-time campaigner for a seven-day NHS – made his remarks on Monday at a meeting with doctors and medical students at King’s College London’s Guy’s campus.
He said initially “there was good clinical consensus” across the NHS and medical profession about the need for seven-day services. However, “where this became derailed was when the seven-day services was loosely linked in some way to a discussion about junior doctors.”
Keogh identified a lack of senior doctors on duty at weekends, rather than too few junior medics, as a key obstacle to introducing a seven-day NHS. “Where it did need a focus on people was primarily around consultant support,” he said.
Read more in The Guardian.