Jeremy Hunt has asked the prime minister to keep him in the health secretary post until 2017, claiming he “would be very happy if this is my life’s work”.

The health secretary revealed the request in a wide ranging interview with HSJ about the government’s response to the NHS Five Year Forward View.

He said his priorities would now be the modernisation of out of hospital care and prevention of ill health.

The forward view “consensus” would help him persuade the prime minister and chancellor to support changes, he added.

Mr Hunt, who might get promoted if there is a new Conservative led government next year, said he had “always said I want to do this job for five years and I’ve told David Cameron [that] as well”.

He told HSJ Mr Cameron had “smiled” in response. “Prime ministers don’t answer those kind of questions,” Mr Hunt said.

A five year stint would take Mr Hunt to September 2017.

This intention, he told HSJ, would allow him to “take decisions now on the basis that I will have to live with [them]”.

“I hope this will be my life’s work - to be health secretary”, Mr Hunt added, “There’s no job like it in politics. It’s very hard to understand that from the outside.

“When you sit around that table and week in, week out, take decisions that are literally affecting people’s lives, you realise there is no bigger privilege in politics than to do that.

“So I’d be very happy if this is my life’s work.”

David Cameron

The forward view may help persuade the PM to support changes

Mr Hunt said his priorities for the future were developing out of hospital care, drawing on the new models proposed in the forward view, and illness prevention - something also prominent in the forward view.

He added: “We’re now very aware of the challenges in out of hospital care but we haven’t articulated how we’re going to improve it.

“The forward view is a first step and the government needs to do its part in responding to that.”

The health secretary admitted there were “things where I haven’t done as much as I’d like… particularly in the prevention area”.

“How you actually prevent healthy people getting long term conditions.”

He told HSJ the forward view had made it easier for him to convince government that the NHS wants and would be able to deliver the proposals in the document.

“When you are responsible for the fifth largest organisation in the world and potentially an absolutely huge ungovernable bureaucracy, it is very powerful to be able to have confidence that you can deliver an objective,” he said.

“If we’re going to deliver this really big change to the NHS, people have to really want to do it.

“So it’s very, very powerful for me to be able to go to the prime minister and chancellor and say: ‘This isn’t just what I want to do as Jeremy Hunt, this is what the system wants, so if we back it we can have confidence that the NHS will deliver those changes.’

“That’s what makes it powerful.

Mr Hunt’s comments come as the Department of Health is believed to be negotiating for additional funding for the NHS in 2015-16 and beyond, including potentially upfront investment in new models of care, ahead of the government’s 3 December autumn financial statement.

Exclusive: Patient choice is not key to improving performance, says Hunt