Jeremy Hunt is the Secretary of State for Health

Today in Llangollen I said Labour in Wales were sleepwalking to another Mid Staffs. I am afraid their reaction makes me more not less worried that this is the case. They quote the Nuffield Trust report published today as saying that the gap in performance between the NHS in England the devolved nations in narrowing, which is true enough.

The trouble is the data the report is based on only goes up to 2012/13 and in many cases earlier. So, as the authors themselves make clear, it excludes the impact of any changes brought about by the Francis Report into what happened in Mid Staffs. This is what the report
actually says:

“However most of the data here inevitably relate to the period when each country’s health service was experiencing growth in funding in real terms and before any policy changes made after 2010 were likely to have had their effect.”

The press notice accompanying the report also says:

“The indicators in the report stop by 2012/13 so the report cannot assess the impact of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 or any of the changes in response to the Francis Inquiry in England”

Yet what was Labour’s reaction today? Carwyn Jones, Labour first minister, claimed the report showed that criticisms of poor care in
Wales were ‘unfounded.’ Andy Burnham accused the Prime Minister and me of a ‘sinister spin operation’ for comments expressing concern about poor care in Wales.

The point is not that we have eliminated poor care in England compared to Wales – we still have many problems. It is whether or not the governments in either country are facing up to the problems and dealing with them. We have put 14 hospitals into special measures in England, introduced a new inspection regime and seen an extra 3,500 nurses recruited in the last year (not covered by the report).

Labour in Wales has refused to do any of this, put their head in the sand and called it all Tory spin. Which is pretty much the way they reacted to Mid Staffs originally too. How tragic it would prove if history repeated itself.