Hunt resists move from health secretary position, receives expanded role

pharmafile | January 9, 2018 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Medical Communications Jeremy Hunt, NHS, Theresa May, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

As part of Theresa May’s well-publicised cabinet reshuffle, many were expecting Jeremy Hunt to move from his position as Secretary of State for Health to become business secretary. After an hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister, however, he emerged with the new title of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The expected move of departments would have seen Hunt withdrawn from facing some of the intense flak he is receiving for the continued and, likely, snowballing winter crisis at the NHS.

Hunt’s refusal to shift from his position saw a number of other shifts in position mothballed, meaning that May’s reshuffle only resulted in only one major move of existing cabinet members – as Justine Green, Work and Pensions Secretary, simply quit the government rather than change her position.

The lack of movement for the much anticipated cabinet reshuffle has resulted in widespread dissatisfaction, for both supporters and detractors of the government. The government has pointed towards the second day of her reshuffle, today, with a plan of boosting female and ethnic minorities representation, as equally significant to the first day of changes.

Jeremy Hunt’s new title as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has been met with a varied reaction from within the healthcare system. Many have been calling for Hunt’s head as he has presided over a period in which per capita funding has dropped, leading to repeated calls for more funding to be provided to the service.

However, there was an acceptance that, even if in title only, the recognition for better join-up between health care and social care was an important step to ensure the long-term sustainability of the current system.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “This is a critical role at a critical time for general practice and the wider NHS and we will continue to work constructively with Jeremy Hunt in his expanded role as Secretary of State for both Health and Social Care in England.

“We support the bringing together of health and social care into the portfolio of one minister as we recognise that what happens to patients in the NHS is profoundly impacted by the state of social care.”

However, it wasn’t long before another gaffe managed to take the gloss from Hunt’s new position, as he liked a tweet regarding Justine Green’s exit from government – a move that was labelled an “accident”.

Ben Hargreaves

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