A group of NHS campaigners are so tired of dealing with misleading spin from Jeremy Hunt’s press team at the Department of Heath (DoH) that they are now cataloguing the statements on a dedicated Twitter hashtag for all to see. The move will no doubt leave the department red-faced, containing multiple fact-checked challenges and the endless re-announcement of projects and funding that never actually come to fruition.
Big Up The NHS
— Big up the NHS (@butNHS) January 2, 2017
The Big up the NHS Twitter account set up the #DoHballs hashtag on Monday 2 January. The Private Eye magazine has a regular feature called Coleman Balls, in which it highlights the most absurd and nonsensical utterances of sport pundits. The hashtag does the same with DoH spokespeople.
Here are some of our favourites.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics
Over the last eight years, the number of people waiting for hip replacements has risen by more than a quarter – to over half a million. Research by The Telegraph found that [paywall]:
One in 10 people have to wait more than 18 weeks for surgery amid rising concern that NHS is deliberately delaying treatment because it is not seen as life threatening.
Those forced to wait for surgery suffer extreme pain as their bones wear away and are left increasingly immobile, often unable to climb stairs or go outside.
This crisis came to a head over Christmas, with the DoH once again cancelling operations en masse to free beds for anticipated emergencies over the festive period. The government continues to under-resource the NHS, and then accuses it of failing to deal with demand – rather than actually providing enough beds, staff and funding to deal with demand successfully:
Typically Orwellian response from @DeptHealthPress on this: "we are better prepared for winter than ever before" 🙄https://t.co/O0yUeQnc8v
— Rachel Clarke (@doctor_oxford) January 3, 2017
The DoH response to The Telegraph? ‘Nothing to see here’:
— Big up the NHS (@butNHS) January 2, 2017
The big funding lie
The DoH also likes to tell us it is about to spend a lot more money on the NHS. Often announcing the same funds over and over again – which seemingly never actually arrive.
— Mavis Dupley (@maydup2012) January 2, 2017
— Rod Kelly (@rodkelly50) January 2, 2017
In reality, something quite different is happening to health spending in Britain.
Responding to the government’s 10-year budget forecast in 2015, the King’s Fund stated:
The ten years up to 2020/21 are likely to see the largest sustained fall in NHS spending as a share of GDP in any period since 1951.
As a result the NHS is struggling to meet its obligations to patients.
NHS campaigners continue to highlight the gap between DoH statements and reality, while those dependent on the NHS suffer the consequences of that gap. All the while, Hunt continues to underfund and understaff the service in efforts to break it. It’s on all of us to join junior doctors, nurses, and NHS campaigners across the country to defend and restore the NHS. Some might argue we can’t afford the NHS. But the truth is, we can’t afford to lose it.
– Follow and support the work of Big Up The NHS here.
– Support the work of the National Health Action party here.
– Support the junior doctors strike at Wear Your NHS.
Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons
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