HSJ’s digest of Monday’s significant developments for healthcare leaders.

Jeremy’s back

Jeremy Hunt is to remain as health secretary, it was revealed by HSJ on Monday some time before 10 Downing Street got the news out. Mr Hunt – who has been in post since 2012 – told HSJ earlier this year that he had requested to stay in his job ideally till 2017, and it appears his wish has been granted, for the time being at least.

HSJ editor’s Alastair McLellan explains in a leader column today what the new government and Mr Hunt’s return mean for the NHS. Alastair comments: “HSJ applauds the prime minister for re-appointing Jeremy Hunt as health secretary. Mr Hunt has proved effective, has an improving relationship with Simon Stevens, and made his commitment to the job very clear to HSJ before the election.”

His predictions include that this Parliament is unlikely to see a major piece of health legislation, and that David Cameron is more likely to go into coalition with the Scottish Nationalists than introduce co-payments for NHS services over the next five years.

Mr Hunt’s return points to several issues likely to remain firmly on the agenda. One is the introduction of a points ranking system for clinical commissioning groups (HSJ reported last month that commissioners have some concerns about this)

Another is seven day services – Mr Hunt told HSJ last month he saw weekend working as a way to meet growing demand for planned care

In case he was in any doubt

Having committed to spending multiple more billions on the NHS during the election campaign, then being told by some that it wasn’t nearly enough, the Prime Minister is likely quite aware of the challenges facing him in stewarding the NHS through the next five years.

However, in case he was in any doubt, the bold chief executive of Northampton General Hospital Trust, Sonia Stewart, has written him a rather direct open letter on his return to government.

Sonia Stewart, a medical doctor as well as leader of the trust, declares: “I  worked as a hospital doctor in the NHS for 37 years before taking on the CEO role and I need to tell you that staff in the NHS have never been under so much pressure and demand for services has never been so high. Many senior staff are very demoralised.”

She has some more cheery messages too – about the hospital’s plans for service reform – and a wish list for the PM. She wants financial support and expertise for transformation, and “less regulation and a more coordinated approach from regulators”. NHS execs across England will be in agreement, but presumably not vocalising quite as directly as Dr Stewart.