Conservative conference: Jeremy Hunt demands NHS focus on elderly
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt insists that NHS staff must become the "best in the world" at looking after the elderly, during his speech at the Conservative Party conference.
In his first speech as Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt promised to “transform the culture” of the NHS.
The focus of this transformation concerns elderly people that are under the care of the NHS, a key group of voters for the Conservatives.
"This year for the first time there are more pensioners than children," he stated, warning that, “the system continues to treat older patients as a surprise, at best, or unwelcome at worst.”
Mr Hunt criticized Labour, saying no party had a "monopoly on compassion". He continued by reiterating his family background and giving the impression of being NHS-friendly; his father worked as an NHS manager and his mother as an A&E nurse and midwife.
The Health Secretary praised the many “unsung heroes” of the NHS, but was also “honest about failure” by retelling stories of horrific mistreatment under recent NHS care.
"The shocking failures of care at Mid Staffs where a patient with C-diff was left to lie naked in their own excrement,” and, “the bullying of a man with Parkinsons at East Surrey hospital,” were cited as examples.
Mr Hunt outlined some severe measures to deal with these failings. The first was that managers could lose their jobs in the NHS if they were not up to scratch; Mr Hunt will ask the Care Quality Commission to see how they could be held accountable "for the care they provide".
Hunt also championed the use of ‘friends and family’ surveys to assess the quality of patient care, despite doubts about their reliability raised by the Department of Health.
In his speech, Mr Hunt also paid tribute to his predecessor, whilst setting himself an ambitious target.
"If Andrew is the health secretary who helped give us the structures for a modern NHS, I want to be the health secretary who helped transform the culture of the system - to make it the best in the world at looking after older people," he said.
The Conservative conference continues until Wednesday.