Jeremy Hunt wins a ‘humanitarian award’ for patient safety. No, we’re not kidding.

Jeremy Hunt looking smug
James Wright

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has won an award for patient safety. And we’re not joking.

‘Global leadership….’

At the 6th Annual World Conference on Patient Safety on 24 February, Hunt received the ‘Humanitarian Award’ for his ‘global leadership’ on patient safety. During his acceptance speech, Hunt said:

I think this is really a team effort. I’ve been inspired by amazing doctors… people who have stood up in their own profession and said things have to be different.

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Self-congratulation?

The Health Secretary himself “supported” the organisation of the event, which has led some to claim that Hunt basically handed himself the award.

Indeed, self-congratulation is likely the only way Hunt could win an award for patient safety. In 2015 alone, there were 30,000 excess deaths as a result of Conservative austerity, according to an Oxford University report. And it seems to have got worse, not better. In January 2018, specialists in emergency medicine from 68 hospitals warned that patients are unnecessarily dying in corridors because the NHS is so underfunded and short-staffed. Yet the flagship goal of the Patient Safety Movement (PSM), the organisation behind the summit, is zero preventable deaths by 2020.

An award for private profit?

Another way Hunt could win such an award would be if ‘patient safety’ actually meant ‘private profit’.

Joe Kiani founded PSM. He is also CEO of US healthcare technology company Masimo, which already enjoys contracts within the NHS for the supply of equipment. PSM is partnered with a wide variety of private healthcare companies. Many are from the US.

Meanwhile, the Conservative government continues to privatise NHS services in the UK. In 2016/7, the Conservatives handed 70% of the NHS contracts up for tender in England to the private sector.

Hunt also attended the summit last year, accompanied by the Conservatives’ Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade Antonia Romeo. At the time, Romeo commented that “Innovation in operating model = crucial”.

Reactions

On social media, people reacted with disbelief to Hunt winning the award:

The Health Secretary appears to be on a mission to privatise the NHS. The privatisation has long been dressed up as patient-centred progress. Handing Hunt such a prize is an insult to all those who have suffered under his party’s dangerous cuts.

But this isn’t the only time Hunt has won an award. Channel 4‘s The Last Leg awarded Hunt a prestigious prize in 2016:

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Featured image via Channel 4 News

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