Last week’s cabinet reshuffle shows the centre of government will want more control of the NHS and its performance, argues Richard Sloggett.
With Matt Hancock returned as health and social care secretary following last week’s reshuffle there will be a sense amongst HSJ readers that ’nothing has changed’. But changes are afoot in what he and the government will focus on, and how they will oversee the NHS to deliver it.
On being returned to post Mr Hancock recorded his latest video setting out both his exuberance at this outcome and priorities for action. Many of these were a repeat of his first speech following the December election at Policy Exchange where he spoke of people, technology, prevention and infrastructure.
Following the worst performance statistics on record, a sudden interest in waiting times is of course not surprising
But it was the mention of “performance” in the 31 second clip on Thursday which was notable — the word did not feature in his December speech at all. Indeed Mr Hancock has rarely spoken about performance at all, as John Appleby from the Nuffield Trust observed last week, asking: “Who takes responsibility for this ongoing decline in the quality of NHS services to patients and the public?”
Following the worst performance statistics on record, a sudden interest in waiting times is of course not surprising. But there is also a growing sense that the public now wants action.
Polling from JL Partners showed reducing waits for accident and emergency, GP appointments and for planned operations were three of the top four priorities for voters on health following the election (just behind increased staff numbers).
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Date: 17 February 2020