- Posted Wednesday July 11, 2018
So after six years as Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has finally moved on. Before we all start to cheer, let’s be realistic - is it really good news for general practice or not?
Whatever you think of Jeremy Hunt he did at least provide some stability, campaigning for more money and making extensive plans for the next 10 years. He provided a long-term structure that ministers who don’t stay around long enough to warm the seat can’t hope to replicate.
I know there will be opposing views around his legacy and many think he has added more nails to the NHS coffin, but we must also have a sense of realism and accept the need for radical reform after 70 years of the NHS.
The promised £20.5 billion investment was a welcome development over the past couple of weeks; however, we have to hope that a change of personnel will not stop this money coming into the NHS.
It is often said “better the devil you know”, or “be careful what you wish for”. As we know very little about new Health Secretary Matt Hancock, this may not be the change we needed.
Whilst I was not a fan of Jeremy Hunt, I do think he was well aware of the shortcomings within the NHS, and I worry it will take some time for the new man to get up to speed. This is time we simply do not have.
If I could meet with him I would offer the following advice:
- Be your own man and study the issues in order to help the NHS and its patients realise better results, rather than being just another politician looking for the next promotion.
- Speak to and get advice from as many people as possible, including practice managers. Accept that there are hard decisions to be made, and understand they should be taken rather than putting them off.
- The prospect of tax rises to fund the NHS is not the issue it once was, as people are willing to pay more - providing any increase is ring-fenced.
- Let’s have a discussion on what is, and is not, offered on the NHS. Again, we all have differing views but people are open to placing some restrictions.
- Let’s get more positive news out there - you only have to look at various TV documentaries to see the care and attention patients get from the NHS, along with sophisticated procedures that could never have been dreamt of 70 years ago.
- Allow A&E to turn away more people with minor conditions. I can never understand why someone would be happy to spend hours queuing for a cold or a minor condition. Is that an emergency? No.
- See to it that all new money goes into patient care and not into IT programs that are ideal in theory and useless in practice.
- We need to educate patients so they understand they cannot get everything they want when they want it. We should not be afraid of the word ‘NO’.
I could go on and I am sure you all can add to the list. This could be a great opportunity to reform the simple things. We will see over the coming weeks and months whether the new Health Secretary has the guts to tackle them.
What are your feelings on Jeremy Hunt and his replacement Matt Hancock? Let us know in the comments below. Stay tuned to the FPM Blog for all of the latest news that matters most to Practice Managers.