Jeremy Hunt is hoping junior doctors don’t bring up this new revelation at the negotiating table

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Jeremy Hunt has crumbled under pressure in the junior doctors’ dispute and postponed the introduction of the controversial contract. Junior doctors are now set to enter new talks with the government on Monday.

However, as Hunt makes a fresh bid for his contract, a new revelation from Oxford University brings an elephant to the negotiation room that Hunt hopes no one notices. Hunt’s flagship claim that more patients die at the weekend has been damned as a “shambles” by researchers.

The government’s official motive for the contract is delivering a “truly 7-day NHS”. It has said:

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Recent evidence published in the British Medical Journal showed that there are 11,000 excess deaths in the NHS a year because patients do not receive the same standard of care 7 days a week.

The government claims that the contract is necessary to offset the ‘weekend effect’ – where mortality rates increase at the weekend. But Peter Rothwell, the lead author of the report, said that the notion of a ‘weekend effect’ is based on “poor-quality evidence”.

He continued:

If you look at those studies that have actually done the due diligence and looked at real data – gold-standard data – there’s very little evidence indeed of a weekend effect.

The very foundations of the Conservative’s ostensible position on our NHS are crumbling.

Rothwell said the government acted in good faith in its contract imposition but was “badly misled” by its advisors.

However, anyone following the government with due diligence knows it is Rothwell that is being misled here. The Conservatives are disingenuous, but not incompetent. The privatisation of Britain’s much-loved NHS has been a difficult task for the Conservative’s strategists – it was never about the ‘weekend effect’. Obscuring the privatisation of the NHS, dressing it up as patient-centred progress under the “7-day NHS” buzzword, was always the plan.

As The Canary previously reported:

At the hands of the Tory leadership, we have a financially unsustainable institution, a contract squeezing already overworked public servants, a book on NHS privatisation, and a relentless austerity agenda. We have the external political motive to appease the rich multinationals dwelling in the polarised private sector, who bankroll the party, and the internal motive of many MPs who have links to private healthcare. As always, the wider picture extinguishes the Tories’ smoke and mirrors, leaving ‘Operation Privatise’ totally naked.

It has never been about a ‘7-day service’, and the botched data behind the ‘weekend effect’ contributes to validating this. At the negotiation table on Monday, Hunt will probably be hoping no one brings up this flawed study.

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