Hunt looks towards innovation in NHS for ‘best outcomes in Europe’

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Plans for the future of the NHS should set out how England can have among the best health outcomes in Europe, Jeremy Hunt has said.

Speaking at the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, which have recognised the contribution of local health heroes, the Health and Social Care Secretary said plans for the future of the health service should also focus on medical innovation.

On the eve of the NHS’s 70th anniversary, Mr Hunt praised the 1.7 million NHS staff across the whole of the UK.

He singled out paramedics who attended the London Bridge terror attack, bereavement nurses who helped the families of the Manchester Arena bombing and doctors and nurses who stayed at hospitals overnight during the adverse weather earlier this year.

Mr Hunt said: “What happened (70 years ago) wasn’t just about the practicalities of how we deliver healthcare – it was also saying something profound about our values as a country.

“We were the sixth in the world to set a universal healthcare system. The Kiwis were actually the first.

“We were the sixth and we have come to symbolise those values that say that here in Britain, everyone matters. It doesn’t matter who you are, rich or young or city or countryside, you should be confident that you can access good healthcare.

“In poll after poll, if you ask British people what makes them most proud to be British, they say it is the NHS ahead of any of our other national institutions.

“That is only possible because of the utterly extraordinary dedication of our staff.

“One of the privileges of being around for 8.5% of the NHS’s history is that you do meet some totally amazing people.

“In the last year I have been privileged to meet the paramedics at the London Bridge incident who drove their ambulance into a zone where live fire was still happening, and they got out of those ambulances to rescue patients.

“Or I think of the bereavement nurses after the Manchester arena bombing who made it their job to comfort parents whose children who had literally burned to smithereens.

“I think of the doctors and nurses who slept overnight (at work) during the most horrible winter that we have just come through, showing their dedication for the patients.

“The people who are receiving these awards: you are wholly deserving but you are also representing all the other brilliant NHS staff back at base who continue to do an amazing job.”

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt speaks at the ceremony

“That’s what we want, this new plan that (NHS England chief executive) Simon Stevens is putting together.

“We want to be ambitious on having the best outcomes in Europe.

“We want to be ambitious on medical innovation. But we don’t want to change those values – that sense that everyone matters.”

The comments come after a report by leading think tanks concluded that the NHS is not doing as well as its counterparts at saving the lives of patients with many of the “most common and lethal illnesses”.

The report – published last week by The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies – concluded: “The UK appears to perform less well than similar countries on the overall rate at which people die when successful medical care could have saved their lives.”

Mr Hunt added: “I want to send a huge thank you to every single one of the 1.7 million NHS staff across the whole of the UK for doing our country proud and making us particularly proud of this, your 70th birthday.”

A leading surgeon, a domestic assistant and a cancer nurse were among those who received awards at the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by IBM and Teva.

MPs from around England were encouraged to nominate people or organisations in their constituencies who had made innovations or provided high quality care.

From more than 750 entries submitted, senior experts chose 10 outstanding nominations, which “exemplify the best of what the NHS and its partners do day in, day out”, NHS England said.

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