Jeremy Hunt: Learning from mistakes

House of Commons

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Oral Answers to Questions

         NHS: Learning from Mistakes

The Secretary of State was asked—


Mr Hunt made the following statement to the Parliament:

This was then followed up by questions from MPs.  For full transcript see bottom of page. These were some of the questions put to Mr Hunt:


Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP):

I have a final plea. The Secretary of State is offering more support to whistleblowers, but a review and reconciliation for those who have been badly treated in the past might give people more confidence that, if they step up and report something significant, they will not be hung out to dry, as has been the case previously.

Mr Hunt:

With respect to whistleblowers, I will reflect on what the hon. Lady says. We are trying to eliminate the need for things ever to get to the point where someone has to become a whistleblower. We want to ensure that people are supported to speak out about mistakes they have seen or made and concerns that they have, and that they are confident that they will be listened to. We are publishing a table today about the quality of the reporting culture. Much of the raw data that allow us to rank trusts on the quality of reporting data come from the NHS staff survey, which asks staff how valued they think they are, and how safe and easy it is to raise concerns. That is why this is a big step forward.


Mr Hunt does not answer the question. He advised that staff will be supported to speak up but not what he as the Secretary of State will put in place to ensure whistleblowers are not ‘hung out to dry’. So, basically staff will be encouraged to speak up but no redress if they are subsequently persecuted.

‘We are trying to eliminate the need for things ever to get to the point where someone has to become a whistleblower.’ is a good strapline but how will Hunt achieve this?

Despite numerous speeches and assurances, there has been no accountability of senior managers who persecute whistleblowers. In fact in many instances they are even promoted as in case of Raj Mattu where £11m (so far) of taxpayer’s money has been wasted on legal costs. Yet the CEO responsible continue to enjoy a good life without question.

In fact why are NHS organisations given a blank cheque for legal expenses which is funded by the taxpayer to pay for patients? Why has this not yet been stopped?


In the following example gagging clauses were used so potentially placing patients at risk. However, manager responsible has not been held to account

CQC’s Fit and Proper Person Test has also failed in holding senior managers to account. Not one manager who has been involved in persecution of whistleblower has been formally held to account. frequently citing reasons that they are no longer at the Trust where the incident occurred.


Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op):

Action on Sir Robert Francis’s “Freedom to Speak up” review is very welcome. There are so many cases I could cite, but when a senior junior doctor reported unsafe levels of care in an intensive therapy unit, he was subject to unacceptable behaviour such as bullying and blacklisting, and now can only work as a locum. When he wrote to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State refused to engage, listen and learn from his experience. Learning cultures have to start at the top with the Secretary of State. Will he set out how he will address retrospective cases of whistleblowing when people have been subject to discrimination?

Mr Hunt:

I hope that the hon. Lady is not quoting selectively from my reply to the person concerned, because when people raise issues of patient safety with me, I usually refer them to the CQC, which is able to give a proper reply. I would be very surprised if I had not done that in this case. Retrospective cases are particularly difficult, and much as we want to help, it is difficult constitutionally to unpick decisions made by courts. We are trying to separate employment grievances from safety grievances and make that the way that we solve these difficult situations.

‘Learning cultures have to start at the top with the Secretary of State.’ This is indeed a view shared by many. As  Health Secretary of State in excess of 6 years, what has Mr Hunt learnt about whistleblowing and what effective measures has he put into place as a result?

Hunt has also refused helping ‘retrospective cases’. So, basically if as a whistleblower you have lost everything – job, career, pension contribution, home, marriage and health, then it’s simply TOUGH because redress would be ‘particularly difficult’ . Why? Because courts are responsible. Many whistleblowers have won in courts or have had to settle out of court, so proving whistleblower’s case.

Hunt goes on to say, ‘We are trying to separate employment grievances from safety grievances’. Nearly all whistleblowing cases go through employment grievances from false or insignificant counter allegations.  In fact in nearly all whistleblowing cases, where the staff member has contacted the Department of Health, DH, for help. DH have refused, advising they cannot intervene due to ‘ongoing employment’ dispute. Yet they do intervene  by  helping and advising organisations on progress and settlement as well as funding their legal expenses, paid by the taxpayer.

Subsequent freedom of Information disclosed in my case that my settlement was ‘a good value for money’. Trust had advised DH that due to ‘new technology’ my post was now redundant. So they were offering me 2 years pay – out of which I had to pay my legal cost of £78,000. A prudent DH official would have asked what was the new technology and given that I had won my case who should have been held to account, given that there were clear evidences of my raised concerns. DH asked neither. Whistleblowers are regarded as a ‘disposable commodity’.

Hunt goes on to advise, ‘I usually refer them to the CQC, which is able to give a proper reply.’ So, basically Hunt is passing on the responsibility to CQC. Yet, CQC do not deal or investigate detriment faced by whistleblowers.

CQC advises: ‘Please be aware that we do not settle individual complaints. The only exception to this is complaints people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act (or their representatives) make about the way staff have used their powers under the Act.’   From page 9 of CQC: how to complain about a health and social care service  

So, whistleblowers are left going in circles for help.

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab):

If anybody should be learning from mistakes in the health service, it is the Secretary of State for Health. I have been down to the picket line today, as I have on every occasion, and I can tell him that it is hardening. There are more people on that picket line down at St Thomas’ today than I have seen in all the months since the strike began. I am a bit of an expert on picket lines; I know what it is like. Quite frankly, the biggest mistake that the Secretary of State has made is to think that he can get away with imposing a seven-day week on hospital doctors and everybody else who works in the health service, because he wants to avoid proper premium payments. When I worked in the coal mines, miners got double pay on Sundays, and they got time and a half all day Saturday. It is time he recognised that not just hospital doctors but nurses, radiologists and all the others who will have to work a seven-day week should be paid the proper money. Otherwise, pack the job in, and then he’ll be doing a service to the whole national health service.

Mr Hunt:

Under our proposals, doctors will receive higher premium rates than lower paid nurses, paramedics and healthcare assistants. I thought the hon. Gentleman campaigned for the lower paid! The day that I stop this job will be the day that I stop doing the right thing for patients. He has constituents who need a seven-day NHS, as do I, and this Government will be there for them and will do the right thing.

Mr Skinner also advises, ‘If anybody should be learning from mistakes in the health service, it is the Secretary of State for Health.’ Yet, Hunt seems oblivious to any mistakes made by him. We all make mistakes but greater mistake is not recognising them.

Hunt goes on to say, ‘The day that I stop this job will be the day that I stop doing the right thing for patients.’. The right thing for the patients would be to have a properly funded and a safe NHS where both staff and patients are protected. Hunt has so far failed patients and staff.

Maria Caulfield:

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. People are fed up with the NHS being talked down by Labour Members, and there was a plea to showcase the good work that is taking place in our NHS today.

Mr Hunt:

It is so good to have someone with nursing experience in the House, and I hope that my hon. Friend will make an important contribution for many years to come. She knows what it is like on the front line, and why it is important to get this culture change. She also knows how important it is not to run down the NHS, which is doing extremely well.


Ms Caulfield advised, ‘a plea to showcase the good work that is taking place in our NHS today.’. Indeed there are huge amount of good work taking place in our NHS despite unacceptable pressures placed on them by DH.


Hunt advises with regard to the NHS:  ‘is doing extremely well.’  Really Mr Hunt?


Hansard transcript:


Response from learning from mistakes initiative:


Jeremy Hunt on twitter with responses:

Read my statement to Parliament on our plans to make the NHS a safer system:

These are some of the responses:

. Dude there’s like fifty four thousand telling you something’s going wrong RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE.

Smoke and mirrors & empty promises are a poor substitute for real governance, Minister

So where is our whilstleblowing protection? And where is YOUR learning culture? You are not proving to be a good example

what about the judgement made in Manchester today on being able to speak out safely?

And that man is even worse -lawyers acted for Hunt AGAINST Chris Day. Hypocrisy

Well thats not what is happening to Chris Day. Will you step in & protect this dr fired for speaking up about patient safety?

. 50000 doctors in England are now on strike -speaking up against you to help prevent things going wrong in the future.

They all blame you, you simpering quarter wit

Hunt, YOU are the thing that’s going wrong. Everybody is telling you this every day. Trouble is, you are refusing to learn.

are you taking the piss? Thousands of junior doctors are out on the streets protesting against YOU. You do understand that yeah

I, along with thousands of others, don’t believe the rubbish you spout anymore

Have you perhaps stopped to consider that the biggest problem with the NHS is you

You have 53000 doctors speaking up now and you are ignoring them.

Tell us when the safest option isn’t an option

Instead of sitting penning more ‘sticks’ to beat up our doctors with. Get out to picket lines and talk to them!!

does it involve destabilising the NHS to make way for a lucrative private health care system by any chance??

‘You spin me right round baby right round’ !!! How is your Cousin these days? sold him anymore of the NHS?

Why? It’s a tissue of lies, spin and obfuscation.

liar and a corrupt callous uncaring shit

I trust the NHS staff that saved my then 5 month old sons life, stop attacking them

does it involve putting patients before your own political & financial ambitions? Thought not.

you mean how to sell it off your chums so they can privatise it and charge us loads to use it

“cloth-eared tool” is too nice. You are a national disgrace.

Bullying doctors until they leave will not make the NHS safer.

you are going to quit?

Just resign, it will make NHS safer. Have you ever worked in a hospital? With out experience how to you know?

the extent to which you’re dissociated from what’s going on around you is a concern. You can access free therapy on the NHS…

Won’t make any difference… he’s just the muppet !!!

It’ll be full of spin, deceit and lies, you have shown yourself to be dishonest and its certainly doubtful you have integrity.

Not having Junior Doctors working long shifts and recruiting more staff would help make our safer!

Please resign you ruddy fool.

I really hope you can learn from your mistakes in that case! Will I be protected when I whistle-blow your incompetency?

You don’t seem to be learning Jeremy, I blame you for your appalling treatment of NHS staff

You’ve had 6 years to make NHS safe & you’re still planning?

Doesn’t NHS stand for National Health SERVICE, not National Health System? Just checking.

why do 98% of junior doctors think you’re wrong? I’d much prefer to read your resignation letter


no thank you, I’d rather repoint my entire house

Why, is it your resignation letter?

if I wore a hat sir, I’d now be taking it off to you for that reply to the walking/talking idiot that is

So thousands are speaking up as I write…. Why aren’t you listening and learning?

none of your plans will make the NHS safer because there will be no staff left to carry out your crazy plans. Invest in staff.

As SOS Health you have totally failed in your role. Please stop your arrogance and listen to our Jr Docs. They are intelligent.

the only statement you could make to create a safer NHS would be your resignation!

I’m confused, who protected Dr Chris Day when he raised concerns about , then got sacked, who’s protecting him


I can’t be bothered reading it, are you increasing staffing levels? Are you negotiating with doctors?

can’t see anything relating to bullying & demoralising staff, yet that’s the reality.

You sir are a threat to patient safety and also a laughing stock. You’re time is numbered

But when are you going to sack incompetent & vindictive NHS managers who apply the blame culture against medical staff?

So I take it that means your resigning then. Oh well better late than never.

then its time YOU listened & learnt from NHS staff life savers/care providers NOT pen pushers.

it’s never been a system

A safer NHS? Does that start with your p45 in the post?

for the sake of our NHS please back off and resign, you and your colleagues are slowly killing public services.

Absolute BULLSHIT Hunt nothing learned from Winterbourne View 4 years ago PLS RT to expose

Please resign you ruddy fool.

are you resigning?

does it say “I was wrong, I lied and I therefore resign” …. if not it must be more of the same

Ha Ha Ha see you at your next gig Live at the Apollo

Talk to the Junior doctors you incompetent twit.You may not know but they are on strike at the moment because of your stupidity

I’m confused, who protected Dr Chris Day when he raised concerns about , then got sacked, who’s protecting him?

all that comes out of your mouth is lies,why would this be any different.Just resign

how is it possible to believe a word you say,after you’ve told so many lies?

we are striking to make sure the NHS is safe from your privatising hands. Hunt should Quit now.

we are speaking up Mr Hunt and you are not protecting us. Do explain this garishly obvious disparity.

, in medicine learning from mistakes is vital, knowing when you are wrong and putting patients first. , please!

you still around, not resigned yet, just how do you live with yourself & your constant dismantling of The NHS

Im ready to speak up.Which is why I will. You are the problem.If you and your lies disappear,there’s no longer anything wrong!

you’ve lost all credibility. leave the NHS alone

you are what is going wrong at the moment, demoralising and trying to disband the NHS! Find something you are good for and go!

people are only BLAMING YOU so why don’t YOU LEARN from this?

Oi , don’t you think if the majority of the nation is against you, you might be wrong on this one?

What’s wrong is you – resign and the problem is sorted.

STOP manipulatin the stats, listen to the NHS staff sayin ur wrong. no-ones buyin the rubbish you spout. Just admit it ur wrong

What’s wrong is you – resign and the problem is sorted.

you are so far out of touch it’s embarrassing

Things are going terribly, horribly wrong right now, and the fault lies with your department and your government, no one else

WE are speaking up but YOU aren’t listening.You are working hard to destroy the people who one day might have to save your life

Mr Hunt, you have well earned your reputation as a bullying, contemptuous liar. Leave the NHS alone.

And finally ………..

someone in your team should of said might be a idea to stay off twitter for while



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