- Ex-Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose brought in as adviser
- Works for private equity firm looking to takeover NHS care
- Rose ‘helping’ hospital … while Care UK bids for the contract
Jeremy Hunt is drafting in ex-Marks & Spencers boss Stuart Rose to conduct a review of hospitals. But eyebrows have been raised by Rose’s role with private equity firm Bridgepoint, which owns Care UK — a health firm at the forefront of the stealth privatisation of the NHS.
Tory-supporting Rose addressed Conservative Party conference in October 2010 (above) before putting his name to a letter backing austerity policies just days later.
But it gets worse. The government’s press release explains:
“Sir Stuart will particularly look at the problems faced by the 14 trusts currently in ‘special measures’, the programme to turn-around failing hospitals introduced last year, where strong leadership was identified as key to improvement.”
One of the hospitals which Sir Stuart will be ‘helping’ is George Eliot in Warwickshire. This hospital is currently subject to a takeover bid from, errrr, Care UK.
Conflict of interest much?
With Jeremy Hunt poised to complete the sale of his stake in Hotcourses.com for £17 million, the health secretary could boost his wealth to as much as £18.65 million — £10 million more than any other cabinet minister.
Here’s how that compares with the rest of the Tory millionaires around the cabinet table … and Nick Clegg:
In 2010 the Mail estimated Hunt’s net worth at £4.5 million:
“Hunt, a lambada-dancing party high-flier, owns a stake in the educational publisher Hotcourses estimated at nearly £3million. He also owns a property in Surrey, a house in Hammersmith, West London, and a half-share of a holiday home in Italy.”
While the Telegraph claims £4.8 million:
“Source of wealth: Stake in Hotcourses, a publisher of guides and websites for educational courses, which he co-founded.”
So accounting for his property portfolio, the windfall should bring him to well over £18 million.
No word yet on whether he’ll be switching energy supplier this winter.
Jeremy Hunt has been definitively slapped down by the court of appeal — who have confirmed that he acted beyond his powers in attempting to force through cuts at Lewisham Hospital.
Hunt may now face a double humiliation if this means he is forced to back down over St Helier Hospital, where campaigners are fighting the same cuts — to maternity and emergency services — as Lewisham.
Business woman Karren Brady has been unveiled as been unveiled as the Tories’ new business tsar. Introducing George Osborne’s speech earlier she quipped:
“A few of you may also know me as the woman who raises my eyebrows a lot in the background on the TV Programme The Apprentice.”
This would all be fine, if the Tories hadn’t thrown a hissy fit when Alan Sugar was appointed as Gordon Brown’s enterprise tsar in June 2009. Then shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote two shrill letters to the BBC claiming Sugar’s role on The Apprentice and advising government were “totally incompatible”.
Whingeing Hunt even suggested the BBC should reschedule the show:
“I wondered whether an assessment has been made as to whether you would need to reschedule the next series of The Apprentice to take into account the need for impartiality during a general election?”
While there is no word on a peerage (yet), her Telegraph interview with Cathy Newman leaves Scrapbook in no doubt that her political ambitions are substantive.
With only four females in a cabinet of 22, however, Cameron will need a few more Karrens to solve what has been dubbed his “women problem”.
The Tories still haven’t removed false claims on NHS spending from their website — at least 16 hours after being ordered to stop by the head of the UK Statistics Authority. Despite coverage in the mainstream press and on blogs, the site still reads:
In an embarrassing letter sent addressed to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the UKSA chief said, at best, spending would have “changed very little” under this government. He went on to demand that the Health department “clarify the statements” about the dubious figures.
Wakey wakey, CCHQ.
UPDATE: Cameron continued the fibbing at PMQs:
“let me quote him directly the figures from the head of the Office of National Statistics, which is that in real terms spnding in 2010 was £104.2bn in real terms and in 2011 it was £104.3bn in real terms. That is a real terms increase …”
More than three weeks have passed since Jeremy Hunt was promoted to secretary of state for health, with industry sources indicating that he has been briefed to keep the NHS off the front pages at all costs.
Perhaps this explains why he has yet to do a single interview, appear on any broadcast or make an intervention of any kind — despite new figures revealing 5,500 nurses have been cut since May 2010. His public activity can be summarised thusly:
- Hunt has featured in a single DH press release on dementia.
- He visited St Thomas’ Hospital — but there were no interviews, no live cameras, and as far as Scrapbook is aware, no advance notice of the visit. Only two photos of the excursion exist.
In the meantime, he has found time to appoint a new taxpayer-funded political spinner from a controversial private healthcare provider and, errr, go on holiday. His own website hasn’t been updated to reflect his new role — with a bio claiming he is still at DCMS.
Good to see he’s earning his £134,565 plus expenses.
Jeremy Hunt’s sudden promotion to Health Secretary raised many eyebrows across Westminster — and it seems that Conservative members and supporters share that concern. In a poll by Tory grassroots website ConservativeHome, voters said by 39% to 35% that the former Culture Secretary was not a good appointment.
The move attracted heavy criticism, when it emerged that Hunt had previously co-written a book branding the NHS a “60 year mistake” and calling for it to be scrapped. He also gained the unflattering epiphet “minister for magic“, due to his support for, erm, homeopathy.
The results of the poll also expressed concern on the part of rank and file Conservative members that Justine Greening had been sacked from her Transport Secretary post as a precursor to a u-turn on a Heathrow third runway — a view shared by the Mayor of London — and a deep worry about the under-representation of women at cabinet level.
The rapid departure of Jeremy Hunt from DCMS, before the Leveson Inquiry reports back, has the feeling of a rat off a sinking ship.
The evidence, including emails and texts, is out. When Adam Smith told Hunt that his decision not refer the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission had an, erm, mixed reception, he replied:
“… good to be a hate figure, Maggie would be proud of me!”
In 1981 Margaret Thatcher famously waved Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of The Times through, despite concerns over media plurality. The Culture Secretary, supposedly acting in a non-political matter told another colleague that being a hate figure on the left in particular meant he “must be doing something right!” And there’s more:
Preparing for Hunt’s statement to the Commons in March regarding BSkyB’s Undertakings in Lieu (which got them out of referral to the Competition Commission), politically neutral Adam Smith prepared a series of friendly questions which could be planted with backbenchers, including:
“Can [the minister] confirm that Ofcom’s advice is that these arrangements are sufficient to address the plurality concerns that initially led them to believe the deal should be referred to the competition commission?”
Seems odd that one so confident in their quasi-judicial capacity should need political allies to throw him soft balls.
Scrapbook is sure that Mr Hunt has the full confidence of the Prime Minister.