Do unscheduled meetings, select crowds and little publicity have anything to do with government ministers and their visits to front line staff? In the case of Jeremy Hunt and the NHS, yes.
Normally if a government minister is visiting a work place, holding a meeting and trying to speak passionately about a national institution, then this would be publicised in the work environment and in the local paper. Well only negative publicity came from these visits.
The above mentioned visits have been happening over the past few weeks, the latest victims being Southmead Hospital and Callington road Hospital, Bristol. No effort at publicising the event, to staff or the public, had been made at either hospital. Staff discovered, at the same time as everyone else, that Mr Hunt had held meetings in the hospital with selective crowds.
Staff found out via facebook posts from their employers. The photo captions explain that, at these meetings Mr Hunt is reported to have spoke about how well the NHS is doing and how staff should be proud. Upon discovery of these posts, staff left comments and previews of what their questions would have been, if they had gone to the meeting. One commenter mentioned that there was not a uniform in the room, probably because they were to busy working extra shifts, to make ends meet. Some of the photos gave such abusive comments that they had to be removed from the hospitals Facebook page.
With low NHS morale, freezing of wages, changes to funding for training, declining numbers of foreign medical staff and the recent failings of politicians being able to communities with the NHS, there is plenty of material and questions, that many staff and members of the public would like to discuss with the Health Sectary. Yet, he decides to hide away, avoid simple questions and cowers at the thought of having to talk to the people that his decisions affect. He decides to play at being the Minister for Health, but never quite makes the advance to doing the job.
Yet, however secret these meetings are, people will try to fight back. Activists, trying to save the NHS, got a tip off about the visit of Mr Hunt to Callington road Hospital, the main mental health facility in Bristol. With recent concerns about mental health funding being stopped, this seemed like the perfect place for real people to meet the Health Sectary. A last minute protest was organised, via social media, and Mr Hunt met some resistance upon leaving his last secret meeting for the day. One of the protesters jumped on the bonnet of his car, I’m sure the staff would have done more than this given half the chance.