Hospital Dr News

Political row escalates over care “cover up”

The row over the political stewardship of the NHS is escalating with the Labour Party threatening to sue the health secretary over comments made on Twitter.

Labour fears the Conservative Party is becoming increasingly personal in its attempts to win the general election in 2015. And the relationship between Jeremy Hunt and the shadow health secretary is becoming increasingly fractious.

Last week, when addressing the Tory Party Conference, Hunt accused his Labour predecessors of coordinating cover ups over failings in care.

He told the Tory faithful: “In a huge system like the NHS, things go wrong and mistakes are made whichever party is in power.

“But tragically under Labour the system did everything it could to cover up these mistakes. Giving Morecambe Bay the all-clear in April 2010 despite the deaths of 16 babies. That was wrong.

“Giving the all-clear to Basildon and Tameside Hospitals in late 2009 just weeks before stories emerged of blood-spattered wards, patients being treated on trollies and elderly patients left alone unable to eat. That was wrong.

“Refusing 81 requests, as their ministers did, for a public inquiry into Mid Staffs. That was wrong.”

Hunt said the government will legislate – through the Care Bill – to give the CQC statutory independence, “like the Bank of England has over interest rates, so ministers can never again lean on it to suppress bad news”.

He cited alleged pressure put on the former chair of the CQC not to speak out about poor care. “That person, Barbara Young, is no Conservative – in fact she is a Labour peer. So even their own people felt desperately uncomfortable,” he said.

Hunt added: “Labour betrayed the very people they claim to stand up for.”

Following tweets over the weekend, which we can’t repeat for being potentially libellous, Burnham has reportedly instructed lawyers to act.

It follows Ed Miliband’s criticism of the Daily Mail, over its coverage of his father.

In his speech, Hunt also committed the government to transforming the care older people receive outside hospital. He said that this would be aided by “rediscovering the ideal of family doctors”.

New pilots on 8 till 8, 7-day opening in general practice will be launched. And, from next April, named GPs will be responsible for all older people.

Burnham has reportedly written to Hunt asking for either evidence that he was involved in a cover up, or to retract the tweet and issue a public apology. Hunt has refused.

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