3 Major Plot Holes In Jeremy Hunt’s ‘Disingenuous’ Rebuttal To Ralf Little

And so it continues…

The weeks-long Twitter spat between Jeremy Hunt and Ralf Little opened its latest chapter on Monday afternoon as the Health Secretary launched a 26-tweet defence of his mental health strategy.

What began as a “double dare” from the actor over comments made about “the biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe” has now reached box-set proportions.

This is what it looks like when a man goes on TV and knowingly lies to the public. If I’m wrong @jeremy_hunt, sue me. I double dare you. https://t.co/YvdvK98Gci

October 29, 2017
WHAT HAVE I MISSED?

A recap of seasons 1 and 2 can be found here. But season 3 saw the Health Secretary “setting the record straight” and praising the “endurance and resilience” of anyone who read it, whilst also admitting that he is not funny.

25) Frankly anyone who has got this far in the thread deserves a medal for endurance and resilience not least because I am nothing like as witty as @ralflittle…

November 20, 2017
26) …. I hope you understand that in the rough and tumble of Twitter sometimes we have to put the record straight! I therefore apologise for this interminably long thread and promise this will be my final tweet on the issue.

November 20, 2017
24) So let’s do a deal: you provide me with evidence that I was – as you claim – deliberately seeking to mislead the public about mental health in my Marr interview & I will happily meet you, factcheckers and all

November 20, 2017
Hunt’s basic premise is that he is indeed overseeing “the biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe”.

HOW DID HE DO THAT?

Hunt used a variety of reports and documents to backup his argument…

3) Parity of esteem for mental health became law in 2012, so here are the tables that show the 4,300 increase in staff at mental health trusts since 2013…

November 20, 2017
4) ….more than 2,000 of which are fully qualified (e.g. not the reduction of 167 in the fullfact piece you linked). https://t.co/pS5O3j8Qq1
17) The New York Times praised the expansion of talking therapies as “the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses” https://t.co/U3ppmgFBRX

November 20, 2017
There’s one slight problem – when this article was written it mistakenly asserted the “world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses” was treating one in three of the entire British adult population.

This is not true as a correction made after publication states:

Correction: August 29, 2017 An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the portion of adults in England who received treatment through the country’s free talk therapy program. One in three adults with common mental disorders have recently received treatment through the program, not one third of all adults.
So essentially he’s quoting a journalist who said he’s brilliant but the whole basis on which they said he was brilliant was based on a rather significant error.

PLOT HOLE #2 – The ‘Mid Staffs’ Issue

The Mid Staffs scandal refers to the negligent deaths caused at Stafford Hospital between January 2005 and March 2009 which led to a public inquiry in 2010 and a number of recommendations being made for overhauling nursing care.

In tweet number seven, Hunt suggests a decrease in mental health nurses was caused by the plugging of understaffed wards.

7) @ralflittle you pointed out that mental health nurses have gone down. This is correct, even though overall numbers working in mental health have gone up. Why? Because post Mid Staffs we realised…

November 20, 2017
8) …there were too many hospital wards with dangerously low staffing so in the last five years have increased hospital nursing staff by almost 13,000. Whilst this has been good for hosps, it has been challenging for MH

November 20, 2017
Labour’s Luciana Berger told HuffPost UK: “Mid Staffs had nothing to do with the reason why all these people were cut from community mental health nursing.

“If you’re trained to be a mental health nurse you’re not transferable to go fill the wards to deal with patient safety to do with Mid Staffs, they’re not transferable skills.

“So the idea that the cuts to community mental health nurses of over 5,500 thousand suddenly plugged the gaps is just nonsense.”

PLOT HOLE #3 – WHY DO WE NEED MORE MENTAL HEALTH NURSES IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The main thrust of season 3 is that the Tories are doing much to train mental health practitioners and provide better services.

11)….so I have corrected the record. But 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since 2010, including 4,300 more MH staff since 2013 isn’t a bad thing surely? https://t.co/K3QvmQnS02

November 20, 2017
But what isn’t mentioned is that this is all in the context of huge reductions in the budgets of NHS mental health providers since the Tories came to power in 2010.

A Kings Fund analysis in 2015 found:

Funding for mental health services has been cut in recent years. Our analysis shows that around 40 per cent of mental health trusts experienced reductions in income in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
There is widespread evidence of poor-quality care. Only 14 per cent of patients say that they received appropriate care in a crisis, and there has been an increase in the number of patients who report a poor experience of community mental health care.
These transformation programmes have also resulted in far-reaching changes to the mental health workforce and have led to a significant reduction in the number of experienced nurses. This has resulted in staff shortages and insufficient staff skill mix in some areas of care.
So effectively, the increase in mental health practitioners lauded by Hunt is to plug the gaps created by austerity.

This issue was raised in July when the Government announced an extra 10,000 more staff working in mental health treatment in England by 2020 without mentioning that 6,700 mental health nurses and doctors has already been cut.

Berger told HuffPost UK: “And that’s just within mental health, part of the NHS ‘envelope’ – that doesn’t take into consideration all the other cuts of people that haven’t been replaced in, whether it’s a children’s centre, befriending services, in outdoor spaces, leisure and recreation – all these things that make a difference to keep us mentally well.

“If you don’t have all those things then people turn up at the door of the NHS. So there’s a reduction of people at the NHS but that’s not even really shining a spotlight on the thousands of people we’ve lost all across the country that actually made a difference to keeping us proactively, positively and preventively mentally well.”

Ralf Little has yet to respond but we’ll update you as soon as he does – a few plot holes never stopped Jack Bauer from getting the job done.      

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