Sunday 19th August 2018,
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NHS criticism on social media ‘risks undermining health service’

Loknath Das February 7, 2018 Health Comments Off on NHS criticism on social media ‘risks undermining health service’
NHS criticism on social media ‘risks undermining health service’

Hospital (stock image)

“Reactionary criticism” about the health service, especially on social media, risks undermining the NHS, the health minister will say later.

Vaughan Gething is expected to warn in a speech that it might put off young people from pursuing health careers.

He will also announce that an extra £100m for NHS Wales over the next two years will go on changing the way health and social care are provided.

The cash will be targeted to deliver care closer to people’s homes.

The additional funding – allocated in December’s budget – will also be used to promote more joined-up working and to “transform” hospitals.

Mr Gething, in a speech to the Welsh NHS Confederation conference, will warn that “reactionary criticism” risks undermining the NHS’s foundations.

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While acknowledging that services have been tested “to their limit” as a result of winter pressures – he will claim some of the media coverage, including “particularly reactionary social media output, sometimes from people working within the NHS,” was creating a “febrile atmosphere”.

That is itself putting the NHS’s future at risk, Mr Gething will argue in his speech.

He is expected to say that there is a “real danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where reactionary criticism undermines the foundations of our positively public NHS”.

Mr Gething said a “skewed picture” of the NHS that was being painted for the public was not one that encouraged children to become the next generation of health and care professionals.

The latest Ucas figures on applications to health professional training showed a worrying decline, he is expected to say.

“This is not a politician burying his head in the sand hoping that ‘bad news’ goes away,” he will say.

“I have publicly acknowledged the pressures the service continues to face. However if we cannot debate the future of social care with more honesty then we will fail in our duty. We will fail to secure the future of a high quality health and social care system that every community in Wales deserves.”

Mr Gething will also say that the £100m of funding will be used specifically to “drive forward” the changes recommended by a review panel.

The focus initially will be on financing a “small number of programmes” that have the greatest impact and which can be adopted across Wales.

‘Work together’

An independent panel of experts, last month, called for an urgent “revolution” in the way health and care are delivered in Wales including a shift of resources from hospitals into communities.

However, Mr Gething warns he will not allow health boards to use the extra money to plug gaps in their budgets.

Those that perform poorly will also have less freedom in how to spend it.

Echoing comments he made in a BBC Wales interview last week, the health secretary will also warn that the challenges facing health and care have grown to such a degree that “tinkering around the margins is no longer enough” and he will call for “bold changes”.

He said there was a need to work together “without delay, to have the greatest impact”.

“We need to be bold. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste”.


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