In extraordinary scenes in the House of Commons today, the Health Secretary was accused of a cover up and conflict of interest while presiding over the biggest scandal of lost patients records ever revealed in the NHS by his Labour Party counterpart in an emergency debate and responded: “transparency is not an absolute virtue.”
Hundreds of thousands of confidential patient records contracted to be looked after by a company half owned by Jeremy Hunt’s Department for Health and half owned by French company Sopra Steria were found dumped in a warehouse, potentially risking the health of thousands of NHS patients.
And today the Health Secretary was accused of leaving patients and parliament in the dark about the scandal.
“Is it not an absolute scandal that 709,000 letters including blood test results, cancer screening appointments, child protection notes were failed to be delivered, left in an unknown warehouse, and many destroyed? Does not the NAO reveal today a shambolic catalogue of failure which took place on the secretary of state’s watch?” Jonathan Ashworth asked Jeremy Hunt, before accusing him of initially failing to disclose the blunder: “He talks of transparency but he came to this house in February because we summoned him to the house. And in February he told us that he first knew of the situation on 24 March 2016. Yet the NAO report makes clear that the Department for Health was informed of the issues on 17 March 2016 and in fact that NHS England set up the Incident Team on 23 March – before he was informed – despite him implying that he set up the incident team.”
The Labour shadow minister also revealed that the company at the centre of the blunder was owned 50 / 50 by the Department for Health and Sopra Steria, but mysteriously one share was sold to the French firm making them the majority stakeholder, before the Speaker of the House stopped him from continuing due to constraints on time.
Full story at The London Economic, 27 June 2017.