Wealth of Health Secretary rises as underfunding blights NHS
JEREMY HUNT is set to trouser a bumper £15 million profit — enough to pay for hundreds of nurses — as he presides over a deepening financial crisis in the NHS.
The Health Secretary is due to receive the windfall from the sale of his education company, Hotcourses, to Australian firm IDP Education, which is reportedly paying a whopping £35m for the business. It is believed the sale will make Mr Hunt the wealthiest member of the Tory “cabinet of the rich.”
Despite standing down as a director in 2009, he has continued to rake in cash from the company, receiving a staggering £1m in dividends last year. It would take a newly qualified nurse on a £21,692 salary no less than 691 years to earn Mr Hunt’s £15m bonanza.
Health workers have been subject to six years of pay restraint, which unions calculate amounts to a real-terms pay cut of about 14 per cent.
Millionaire Mr Hunt has consistently refused unions’ demands for a wage rise. In 2013, he ignored the advice of the NHS Independent Pay Review Body, scrapping the proposed below-inflation 1 per cent pay award on the grounds that it was “unaf-fordable,” a decision which provoked two days of strike action by NHS staff.
The health service is struggling as it faces £22 billion of cuts by the end of the current parliament.
Earlier this month, the British Red Cross warned that there was a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS, with record numbers of people being turned away from A&E departments.
Mr Hunt was accused of going into hiding as the political row unfolded. He said yesterday that he was proud to have set up a successful business and claimed he would “use a significant proportion of the proceeds to campaign for causes I believe in when I eventually leave front-line politics” — an event which some campaigners suggested couldn’t come soon enough.
Keep Our NHS Public campaigns manager Alan Taman accused Mr Hunt of pricing all but the wealthy out of training to be a nurse “as the Hotcourses site proudly offers access courses for a nursing diploma starting at just under two grand.
“No bursary, of course. Thanks to Mr Hunt. Just more debt. This should surprise noone,” said Mr Taman.
“The only reason we have runaway wealth for the fortunate few is because nearly everyone else gets worse off year on year.”
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