Jeremy Hunt has been elected chair of the Commons health and social care committee.
Mr Hunt, whose victory was announced last night, said afterwards: “For my last six months as health secretary, social care was formally added to my responsibilities but it was not long enough to bring forward reforms or — more crucially – a funding settlement for social care.
“That is what I will be pressing for, because the NHS will continue to fall over every winter until we fix social care, risking both patient safety and staff morale.
“I’ll also focus on making faster progress on mental health and patient safety; recent maternity scandals show we can never be complacent. I look forward to working with my committee to provide a strong, independent voice that supports NHS staff and patients in a very pressured period.”
Mr Hunt told HSJ earlier this month he would be “completely honest” about the mistakes he made during his time as health secretary — a record six-year stint ending in 2018. He said social care reform was “unfinished business” from his time at the Department of Health and Social Care, revealing he had wanted to produce a 10-year long-term plan for social care to match the one produced for the NHS. However, Mr Hunt said this was “blocked” by the then chancellor, Phillip Hammond.
Richard Sloggett, a former special political adviser to the current health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, and head of health at the Policy Exchange think tank, said: “Hunt’s chairmanship will be defined by areas where he feels progress and focus has drifted since his departure, particularly safety and areas of unfinished business, social care and the delivery of the long-term plan cash he worked to negotiate.
“With an experienced Whitehall operator in the chair I would expect the level of cross examination and scrutiny from the committee to be higher for both politicians and NHS leaders particularly at a time with such a strong government focus on delivering on it’s NHS manifesto commitments.”