Hancock reappointed as health and social care secretary in cabinet reshuffle

Author: Caroline White

With the uncertainty about who would be in the cabinet out of the way, there’s now no excuse to further delay tackling the crisis facing social care, say healthcare leaders.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed the retention of a minister familiar with the issues. Hancock has been in post since July 2018.

“He is familiar with the many challenges facing the NHS and will ensure there is no let up in helping the NHS to respond to worrying staff shortages, underinvestment in capital spending, the need for pensions reform and the growing social care crisis. These are the big issues that need solving for the benefit of patients,” he said.

He added: “With a strong majority and continuity of leadership, there is no excuse for the government to not bring forward proposals for reforming social care at the earliest opportunity.”

His views were echoed by Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, who also welcomed the continuity of the reappointment.

But the government now needed to make good on its warm words about the NHS, and get on with social care reform, he suggested.

“This new government has made it clear on several occasions that the NHS is its top priority. We, of course, welcome that focus from the prime minister and the secretary of state, but we need to see social care reform join the NHS at the top of that priority list” he said.

“The commitments made for more nurses, investment in NHS hospitals and equipment and more GP appointments are a step in the right direction towards equipping the health service to meet the growing demand for NHS care.

“We also know that the secretary of state remains passionate about improving preventative care, public health, and boosting the use of technology within the health service to improve patient care.”

But he added: “If the NHS is to deliver the scale of the ambition within the NHS long term plan, we need the government to urgently tackle some of the significant issues which impact the way the service operates,” he insisted.

“We need to put social care on a sustainable footing, deliver a multi-year settlement for capital investment across the NHS, and improve performance against key standards by closing the gap between ever-increasing demand and the workforce, services and beds to meet it.”

Image courtesy of the Department of Health and Social Care, Open Government Licence v3.0