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

Sajid Javid’s appearance on the BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show gave us unexpected insight into one of his plans for the NHS.

The new health secretary, when pressed about the NHS missing the 18-week referral-to-treatment target, suddenly went on the attack by claiming several NHS targets were “wrong, just nonsense”.

In fact, he suggested some targets were the acts of “lazy politicians” in search of a “short-term headline” which leads to the NHS “going backwards”.

Strong words, but Mr Javid did not specify which targets he was referring to.

Instead, he called for a “proper review” of NHS targets, and a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman later doubled down on the need to “revisit standards to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and measure what matters most to patients”.

There has already been much debate about the axing of the four-hour emergency care target, and any changes to elective care targets would be equally controversial.

In a comment straight out of the political handbook, Mr Javid said he wanted clinicians to spend more time treating patients than filling out forms.

But as one HSJ reader pointed out in the comments: “There is nothing inherently wrong with these key performance indicators other than we are missing them – and have been from well before the pandemic.”

The buildings backlog

Spending the government’s new tax on helping the NHS clear its backlog of elective patients appears to chime with members of the public, according to a new poll shared with HSJ.

Survation’s latest research shows Joe and Joanne Bloggs believe tackling the waiting list should be one of the top two priorities for the NHS. Somewhat surprisingly, the other priority was “greater investment in the NHS”, despite the increased funding announced last week.

Another eye-catching finding from the 1,000 people who took part in the research was that building new NHS hospitals was the least popular suggested priority.

Indeed, the public felt this was no more important than securing free parking at hospitals. Other priorities such as “faster access to GP appointments” and “more NHS staff” were far more popular.

Healthcare communications expert John Underwood, who presented the findings, told HSJ the public appeared “less convinced about high-visibility projects like new hospital buildings that may be perceived as providing ministers with ribbon-cutting opportunities”.