2013 - the year in review: The year the NHS took a serious kicking

Jeremy Hunt positioned himself as a patients’ champion, shining a light on bad practice in the NHS

The NHS turned 65 in 2013. If it survives to celebrate 75 years, this anniversary will be remembered for one thing above all. It was, first and foremost, the year of the Francis Report, a review of catastrophic failures at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. Robert Francis QC’s findings –
which included that there had been a “disregard of the significance of the
mortality statistics” – have hung like a shadow over the NHS all year.

The report set the tone for a year that has seen the NHS take a serious kicking. Critics lined up to condemn it as unsafe, inefficient and expensive. Its top official, Sir David Nicholson, announced his resignation after seven years at the helm.

All the while, the pressures on the health service have grown, even as its resources dwindle. The Chancellor may speak of “protecting the NHS budget” but annual spending increases are now so small as to represent a cut in real terms for an organisation that has a growing – and ageing – population to look after.

Indeed, the Government spent much of 2013 trying to prove that signs of pressure on the system – such as waiting times targets being missed at A&E wards – are not a consequence of austerity.

Instead, in his first year at the helm, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt positioned himself as a patients’ champion – shining a light on bad practice in the NHS and blaming Labour for not acting on it  years ago.

It was also the year that the health reforms designed by Mr Hunt’s predecessor, Andrew Lansley, came into effect. They were costly, and occasionally disruptive, but in the long-term their main impact may be to open up the NHS to ever more private-sector influence. Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, maintains that the Government is only too pleased to see the NHS begin to stutter.

Whether or not he is on to something may be revealed as Nicholson’s replacement takes the helm in 2014. He is Tony Blair’s former health advisor Simon Stevens, a man who spent the past decade as a senior executive in one of America’s private healthcare giants, UnitedHealth.

Further afield, 2013 provided a chilling reminder of the importance of modern medicine that put wranglings over the NHS into perspective. In Syria, where a 21st century healthcare system has all but collapsed, we saw the return of polio for the first time since 1999.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project