Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, calls for government to “better join up the dots” on immigration policy and the NHS

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  • Simon Stevens calls for government to “better join up the dots” on immigration policy and the NHS
  • Hunt tells Conservative conference government does not intend to “cut doctors’ pay - and it is utterly irresponsible to try and scare people into believing we are”.


4.40pm NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has warned the UK needs to ‘better join the dots’ between immigration policy and the NHS.

His comments came just hours after the home secretary Theresa May told the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that mass immigration made it “impossible to build a cohesive society”.

Her comments have received prime minister David Cameron’s backing today.

4.30pm Hunt says the NHS is fifth largest organisation in the world.

“Faced with such a large bureaucracy, health secretaries of all parties - quite understandably - have tried to make changes by introducing targets.

“Individually those targets have worked - bringing down waiting times, speeding up A&Es, improving cancer care and so on - but collectively they have undermined the professionalism and sense of vocation that should be at the heart of medicine.

“Now I’m not going to scrap every target because patients should never have to wait too long for treatment.

“But we do believe peer-review, transparency and openness about performance is a better way to drive up standards than endless new targets.”

Hunt says he introduced My NHS last year to drive transparency.

4.28pm Many GPs who “find they simply can’t deliver that kind of personal care because of targets and tick-boxes and rising appointment lists.”

“So on Sunday we set out plans for a new contract that will support GPs to deliver evening and weekend care by working with other local surgeries and clinical staff.

“We also announced a £750m scheme to improve primary care premises and technology to allow surgeries to expand and modernise their services.

“And it’s why we are backing the NHS England Five Year Forward View which will connect the services offered by GPs, local hospitals and social care system to offer integrated care closer to home.” 

4.26pm Hunt says every week there are 200 avoidable deaths in England’s hospitals.

“Part of the reason is that across the world, often the culture in hospitals is wrong.

“Put simply we make it too difficult for doctors and nurses to speak out about poor care.

“Too many worry that if they own up to making a mistake or blow the whistle on poor care they will be fired - as they sometimes are.

“As a result not only do we cause patients and families untold anguish as they search for the truth, we lose the chance to learn from those mistakes.”

4.25pm Hunt - “We are not asking junior doctors to work longer hours - that wouldn’t be safe.

“Nor is it our intention to cut doctors’ pay - and it is utterly irresponsible to try and scare people into believing we are.”

4.25pm Hunt - “I want our party, the Conservative party, to be the party of the NHS”.

“For two elections in a row, David Cameron and George Osborne promised more money for the NHS than any other party.

“The extra £10 billion we have committed to the NHS this parliament is a massive commitment in the face of the worst deficit in our peacetime history.

“But what Conservatives know is that a strong NHS needs a strong economy.”

4.22pm Hunt says 24 hospitals have been placed in special measures since the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire. He says people thought these tusts would decline and no one would want to work there, instead”those trusts changed their boards, recruited hundreds of doctors and nurses, and transformed the care they give. 9 have already come out of special measures and according to one study up to 450 lives are being saved every year as a result”.

4.22pm Hunt says Labour cared more about targets than people when in government.

4.20pm Hunt says “if we don’t do everything in our power to improve the quality of that hospital we betray them - and we betray the founding vision of the NHS which says that however fraught your life, however frail your voice our society has not forgotten you because we have an NHS”.

4.16pm Hunt says he will “surprise” the audience by talking about Nye Bevan. “Bevan, bless him, would be turning in his grave if he knew he wasbeing quoted at a Conservative conference”.

4.15pm Jeremy Hunt is now speaking.

3.20pm NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, has called for the government to “better join up the dots” on immigration policy and the NHS.

At the Institute of Directors annual convention today Mr Stevens said: “Understandably we’re having a national discussion about how to get immigration right. My responsibility is to point out that at time when the need for nurses is growing, when publicly funded UK nurse training places will take several years to expand, and when agency staff costs are driving hospital overspends right now, we need to better ‘join up the dots’ on immigration policy and the NHS.

“However most nurses I speak to struggle to understand why our immigration rules define ballet dancers as a shortage occupation - but not nursing. And most hospitals tell me that the idea that we would seriously consider deporting some of our most experienced and committed nurses solely because they’re not earning £35,000 clearly needs a rethink.”

2.30pm Hunt is due to speak at the conference at 3.45pm. Stand by for updates.

1.40pm Hunt may also touch upon the appointment of NHS Improvement’s first chief executive - Jim Mackey. Mr Mackey potentially has a huge to-do list if he is expected to turn around the fortunes of struggling trusts. In a Comment piece for HSJ Rob Webster sets out what Mr Mackey’s priorities might be in his new role.

12.20pm Jeremy Hunt will be delivering his Conservative Party conference speech this afternoon.

He has a number of issues on his plate at the moment including the failure to bring down the £2.1bn acute sector forecast deficit, a dispute with junior doctors over a new contract and GP recruitment concerns.

12.01pm HSJ’s Dave West will be in the conference hall. Follow him on Twitter for updates:

12.00pm This afternoon health secretary Jermey Hunt will deliver his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

Mr Hunt has already had an eventful conference, appearing at fringe events and dodging protesters.

His speech comes after David Cameron announced a new contract for large scale extended primary care providers and said the government would press on with its aim of extending seven day working in acute care. The Conservatives said they would set milestones for achievement in the next government mandate to NHS England.