The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

Goodwill hunting

Matt Hancock has named workforce as his number one “early” priority and said he will be “positive” in the way he raises challenges to the NHS.

He knows this will be compared and contrasted with Jeremy Hunt, who handed him the baton 10 days ago, and who was pretty unpopular with staff after a bruising row with junior doctors, and could be confrontational with health service failures.

It follows on from Mr Hancock writing in HSJ as one of his first acts in post that he thought staff were “undervalued”, and some warm Twitter activity about junior doctors and the British Medical Association.

Speaking at his local hospital in West Suffolk, Mr Hancock spoke keenly about the current review of core waiting times targets, notably declining to clearly say that the current targets must be met, after giving his first proper speech in post.

Cabinet ministers can sometimes exploit goodwill at the beginning of their tenure to pick apart otherwise-untouchable Shibboleths – and perhaps that’s what’s going on here.

As our performance correspondent James Illman writes, the NHS can let go of the four hour emergency target but would need to take time and careful engagement to do so.

But there was also lots more the new health secretary wanted to get off his chest;