The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership
New man at the top
Boris Johnson’s resignation on Monday gave the prime minister the opportunity to promote Jeremy Hunt – who has become a key Cabinet ally – to foreign secretary.
So, after nearly six years – the longest stint under any single health secretary – the NHS suddenly has a new man at the top.
Mr Hunt’s well worn boots have been filled by Matt Hancock, who makes the switch from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The MP for West Suffolk has made little noise about the NHS since being elected in 2010, and his background in finance and economics suggests he could be a more hawkish appointment than his predecessor.
Prior to joining Parliament, he worked for the Bank of England and as economic advisor to George Osborne. He also has links to the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank, which regularly calls for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance based system.
This association might blemish the start of his tenure, at least in some quarters, but his enthusiasm for digital technology and artificial intelligence, which he displayed as culture secretary, could be the mark he makes on the NHS.
Despite his “Matt Hancock App” being subject to a fair amount of ridicule, it does suggest he will be forward thinking and willing to try new things.
Jeremy Hunt recently surpassed Norman Fowler’s record as the longest surviving health secretary, which prompted HSJ to reflect on his various successes and missteps.
Judging Mr Hunt against his own Care Quality Commission ratings system, editor Alastair Mclellan reckoned he would score relatively well on “caring”, “well led”, “safety” and “effective”, but the inspectors would be critical when examining “responsive” and “use of resources”.
Whether that makes him “good” or “requires improvement” overall would depend on how much personal responsibility they decided he carried for Brexit and, especially, public sector austerity.