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21May

Zero by Jeremy Hunt review – this is going to hurt

You can’t fault the former health secretary’s proposals for improving patient care, but his slick prose fails to acknowledge the damage inflicted on the NHS by his party during his tenure as health secretary

On a bitterly cold weekend in October 2015, the views of 20,000 junior doctors, freezing in our scrubs as we marched on Downing Street, were encapsulated in one unforgettable placard. “I may not be a gynaecologist,” it read, “but I know a Hunt when I see one.”

No other health secretary in NHS history has incensed the medical profession quite like its longest serving incumbent. During his six-year tenure from 2012 to 2018, Jeremy Hunt presided over a catastrophic decline in NHS standards, the pain of year-on-year austerity budgets, failed pledges to increase the size of the NHS workforce (those 5,000 extra GPs he vowed to deliver by 2020 shrivelled, in fact, into 1,425 fewer GPs) and, most infamously of all, a series of unprecedented strikes by NHS junior doctors.

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