comment: Lord Hunt's departure leaves managers without their 'own man' at DoH

Published: 20/03/2003, Volume II3, No. 5847 Page 17

Lord Hunt's decision on Tuesday to resign in protest at an impending war he described as 'pre-emptive action without broad international support, or the clear support of the British people' will have mirrored the positions of many HSJ readers, regardless of their broader political views.

But his departure after four years as a junior health minister means managers are losing their man on the inside. He began his NHS career in 1972 on Oxford regional hospital board before moving on to the Nuffield orthopaedic centre and Edgware/Hendon community health council. He was the first chief executive of the NHS Confederation and before that ran the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts.

Lord Hunt's departure raises questions on two main areas for which he had responsibility, IT and inspection. He oversaw the appointment of IT czar Richard Granger (the HSJ interview, pages 20-21) last year. He was also lead minister in the establishment of the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection and has been active in so-called 'bureaucracy-busting' initiatives such as the GP taskforce.

But perhaps Lord Hunt's decision should not have come as a surprise. His 14-yearold son was one of 350 pupils from Queensbridge School, Birmingham, who left classes two weeks ago as part of nationwide peace protest by schoolchildren. Young Jacob told The Guardian at the time: 'My Dad, as health minister, follows the government line, but he believes I am mature enough to make my own decision.'

Like father, like son - eventually.