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22.05.17

Whitehall criticised for delaying release of NHS performance data

The government has been sharply criticised after it was revealed that it would be delaying the release of NHS Improvement performance data until after the election on 8 June.

Critics including shadow health secretaries from Labour and the Lib Dems both stated that the move was a cynical way of hushing up poor performance figures during the run-up to the election.

But NHS Improvement claimed that it tried to come to an agreement with the government to find a release date for the figures, but were unsuccessful.

“Dates for the publication of results have to be agreed with the Department of Health and plans were not finalised when the election was called and the pre-election period commenced,” a spokesperson said.

 “We sought advice and clarification in the hope that a date for publication could be agreed but it was clear, after discussions with the Department, that this would not be permitted without breaching Cabinet Office guidance.”

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that the delay was a “cover up to deny the public the true picture of the NHS”.

And Norman Lamb, Lib Dem health spokesperson, said: “It would be wrong to try and hide this vital information until after the election. The public deserves to know the scale of the financial crisis facing the NHS before they vote.”

The BMA added that the failure to release the figures showed that the Conservatives were turning away from the problem of a lack of investment in the NHS.

“The government is clearly running scared, refusing to face up to the funding crisis that has put the NHS at breaking point,” said BMA chair Dr Mark Porter.

“We’ve seen a Conservative ‘smoke and mirrors’ manifesto that disguises the refusal to fund real health needs in the NHS,” he added. “Doctors, nurses and patients will now not be allowed to see the depth of the current funding crisis before the general election.”

Dr Porter stated that delaying the release of the figures won’t “magically solve the very real problems our health service is facing”.

“Hospitals are in the red, GPs are unable to keep up with the number of patients coming through the surgery door, patients are suffering and staff are working under impossible conditions,” he argued. “The figures should be published as planned so that NHS staff and patients can demand a long term, credible plan to help solve the crisis in the NHS.”

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