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Thursday 24th May 2018

Best Year Ever?

31st May 2006

Who is right? Health secretary Patricia Hewitt who says the NHS has had its 'best year ever'. Or Unison boss Dave Prentis and Dr Beverly Malone of the Royal College of Nursing, both of whom have condemned Ms Hewitt's record at their respective national conferences? asks Nick Edwards in the HSJ.

The best answer, he says, is that Ms Hewitt is, at least, more right. When judged on outputs, she has some good numbers on her side - success on the big waiting-time targets, staff numbers, progress on long term conditions, go-ahead on huge hospital building projects. She is right to counter the clarion calls of 'crisis'. Managers who fall for the Daily Mail line that there is 'dismay at all levels of the NHS' are doing themselves a huge disservice.

It is disappointing that at the Unison conference Ms Hewitt chose to blame local management for inefficient health systems at the very time they need support. If managers do deliver this year, they won't get any thanks from either the newspapers of the unions - but they should demand it from ministers.

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