As the row between Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) and Andy Burnham rumbles on, the thought enters that we need to see more reasoned and knowledgeable debate about the NHS. Here on Zelo Street, that is the goal: to try and avoid the knee-jerk, dishonest and frankly abusive intervention of others. So what has the latest entrant into the debate brought to the table?
Has she got NHS news for us? Er, no
Sadly, nothing of any use has been brought, because that entrant is former Tory MP Louise Mensch, now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket. Having taken the Murdoch shilling, while remaining loyal to her former fellow MPs to the point of wilfulness, Ms Mensch has gone in feet first, only to show unintentionally hilarious ignorance in the process.
“Andy Burnham needs to resign. The emails are unequivocal. Shocking ministerial political pressure on regulator ... Hunt so right to stand firm ... The NHS was not safe in Andy Burnham’s or in Labour’s hands. Labour’s unconscionable cover-up pressure can and will be exposed” she triumphantly announced.
“The emails added ‘Defending material which is not defensible is always a bad place to be’” she observed, but, sadly, this appears to have nothing to do with the alleged cover-up.
But on she ploughs: “The NHS was not only unsafe in Labour’s hands, it was full of literal horror stories”. As opposed to some kind of abstract horror stories? One hates to trivialise incidents where care did not come up to scratch, but this does not make any sense. And Baroness Young of Old Scone has bad news for Ms Mensch.
She was head of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) from 2008 to 2010 – around the same time Burnham was Health Secretary. Her letter earlier this year to Young Dave is unequivocal: “During my time as chairman, CQC was not pressurised by the previous Government to tone down its regulatory judgments or to hide quality failures”. She refuted Cameron’s accusation that “there was a culture under the previous Government of not revealing problems in the NHS”.
So that’s Ms Mensch duly disproved by someone who was actually involved. And then the former MP makes herself look totally stupid by asserting “It’s hard to remember a more stupid political move than Labour threatening to sue over Mid-Staffs”. The report at the heart of the current row was into the Basildon and Thurrock NHS Trust.
Basildon and Thurrock are around 25 miles EAST of London. Stafford is 135 miles to the NORTH-WEST of the capital. Er, hello Louise? Arse ... elbow ... know the difference.