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My evening with Jeremy Hunt

 It was the event we’ve all been waiting for! Roy Lilley in an intimate conversation with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

I am always fascinated by the body language of public speakers. Jeremy Hunt has his down to a fine art. Entering the room in a confident manner he approaches the stage, greeting Roy Lilley with a firm handshake. He takes his jacket off and positions himself centre stage, his stool facing the audience, ready to take the cross examination from Lilley.

Being the 5th largest organisation in the world the debate was wide open and without the witty direction of Lilley the room could have talked about the NHS all night. The evening was centred on some hot topics and raised some interesting questions, including:

  1. Improving Financial Health – Does the tariff system need evolving? How do we improve the funding? Should we have costs per patient?
  2. Investing in Mental Health – Investing in mental health to bring on an equal footing to physical health
  3. Creating more accountability – Should we introduce clinical accountability for patient care?
  4. Measuring performance – Do we have an over reliance on targets? How can we become more sophisticated? What is the definition of success within the NHS?
  5. Using data – How do we use data to improve big and small parts of the NHS?
  6. Improving Learning & Development – What is the power of peer to peer reviews? How do we get the NHS to become a learning organisation? What is the future of the whistle blower?
  7. Improving Complaints Handling – Poor complaints handling costs money. When are we going to have a parliamentary debate about this issue? Should we encourage an internal complaints procedure?

These were the interesting questions that were discussed. My iPhone typing skills could not capture all thoughts on all questions!

The subject that caused a strong differing in opinion was the CQC. ‘Are you the last to believe in it Jeremy?’ asks Lilley. Hunt believes that many trusts have made dramatic improvements following being put into special measures and being inspected by the CQC. ‘Is the CQC worth the £300k that it costs?’ Hunt believes so. The cycles of decline have stopped. How else do you create a system to turnaround, improve and make rapid change?

Lilley strongly believes that ‘inspection doesn’t work’; he clearly expressed this view at the HealthChat on Wednesday this week and has had this view for some time. In Lilly’s Oct 2013 blog he summarises this point well: The car industry doesn’t inspect the finished car; it makes sure every step of the way is done properly by well-trained and resourced people who know what they are doing, are happy to be doing it and are proud to be part of it.

Should we inspect a finished product or should we be inspecting and supporting improvements and change along the way?

I am interested to hear your thoughts on the CQC and whether you feel inspection works or doesn’t work.


Claire Carter is the Principal for Healthcare at Interim Partners. 

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