Medics hit out after health secretary visit

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt at a visit to QA Hospital on Jul 14, 2017. Picture: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust PPP-170714-180425001
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt at a visit to QA Hospital on Jul 14, 2017. Picture: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust PPP-170714-180425001
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MEDICS have criticised the health secretary after it emerged he visited senior hospital figures ‘behind closed doors’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s visit to Queen Alexandra Hospital on Friday was announced after it happened.

Elizabeth Jeremiah, chairperson of the Portsmouth branch of the Royal College of Nursing, said she was not invited.

And others working at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust have criticised the visit as ‘stage managed’.

Ms Jeremiah said those who attended were important but it ‘gives the impression that he doesn’t want to face some very difficult questions from those who day-in, day-out work to keep our patients safe’.

She said the meeting appeared to have been held ‘behind closed doors’, denying workers representation at the meeting.

Ms Jeremiah, a nurse who has worked at the trust for 21 years, said: ‘We all care passionately about patient safety, which appears to have been the crux of his speech.

‘However, in order to out-perform our international counterparts, it needs to start with safe staffing levels and with a workforce who feel valued and appreciated. In the current situation, we are chronically understaffed, feel hugely undervalued and over-worked.’

Mr Hunt visited on Friday to talk about patient safety, having also visited Southampton General Hospital on the same day.

The trust said Mr Hunt had met ‘front line’ staff.

One consultant said: ‘A carefully stage managed visit which the majority of staff knew nothing about. Says everything you need to know about Mr Hunt’s willingness to engage with frontline NHS staff.’

Another worker said: ‘I’m proud to work for this hospital and clearly they’ve done their best given the various circumstances around Jeremy and this government.’

He added: ‘The QA don’t get to pick the health secretary, irrespective of whether they agree or disagree with their ideas. The way that this visit was handled says more about Jeremy and this government as opposed to the leadership within the hospital.’

Another added: ‘Shame Jeremy Hunt couldn’t have stayed to shadow the ED over a weekend.’