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‘What world does Jeremy Hunt live in?’ Manchester Shadow Health Minister launches scathing attack

By Jon Robinson

A Manchester MP is launching a scathing attack on Jeremy Hunt’s speech about the NHS at the Tory conference in Birmingham.

Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne questioned the government’s reforms to the NHS and praised Labour’s proposed plans to manage the organisation.

Mr Hunt claimed that the government would change the way old people were cared and not just treated.

Mr Gwynne said: “Jeremy Hunt’s speech was just unbelievable. What world does he live in? Not the one inhabited by doctors, nurses and the users of our health service.

“The Tories have delivered a cut to NHS budgets for two years running, over 5,000 nurses have been lost since 2010.

“They’re wasting £3.5billion on a massive top down reorganisation that is more about breaking up, commercialising and privatising our NHS than improving the services to patients.”

He praised Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham’s speech at the Labour Party Conference last week which focused on NHS privatisation and warned that the coalition risked destroying the character of the NHS.

The newly installed Health Secretary used his conference speech to announce himself as a responsible custodian of the NHS.

Mr Hunt hit back at Mr Burnham’s attack on the coalition’s health policy by criticising his record whilst in office.

“’To believe in the NHS is to believe in its reform’. Not my words but those of Lord Darzi, Labour Health Minister under Andy Burnham,” he said.

“But now he’s in opposition, Andy Burnham sings a different tune.

“He criticised private sector involvement in the NHS. But who was the Health Secretary who ensured a private company would run a district general hospital for the very first time? Andy Burnham.”

Mr Hunt added: “My priorities will be to give patients in Britain the best survival rates in Europe for major diseases and to transform the way the health and social care system looks after older people. Not just our approach to conditions like dementia, but the way we care for people.”

Mr Hunt also recognised the wider challenge the NHS faces from ageing population and the need for better solutions to dementia and social care.

Mr Gwynne who is supporting an NHS Pledge with local Labour councillors in order to increase council’s roles in health services, commenting after Mr Burnham’s speech, claimed that waiting times at hospitals in his constituency are on the up year by year.

But Mr Hunt hit back this week, using his speech to defend the government’s record in office so far: “Our nurses, doctors, managers and professional staff have delivered brilliant results over the last two years: long waits cut from nearly 20,000 to just 3,000, hospital-acquired infections down, mixed sex wards nearly eliminated, access to cancer drugs up, and access to NHS dentistry up by more than a million.”

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