Call for health secretary to work with doctors

The BMA has urged the health and social care secretary to work with doctors to find solutions to the challenges the NHS faces.

Prime minister Theresa May yesterday announced Conservative MP for West Suffolk Matthew Hancock as the health secretary, following Jeremy Hunt’s departure for the Foreign Office.

The appointment of the culture secretary represents the first change in leadership at the department in six years. Mr Hunt was the longest serving occupant of the post.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul welcomed Mr Hancock into his role, emphasising his hope for a constructive relationship between the Department of Health and Social Care and the association.

He said: ‘We congratulate Mr Hancock on his appointment and look forward to working constructively with him on the development of health policies to ensure safe, high-quality patient care.

‘While there is a new secretary of state, the challenges the health service faces remain the same. Patients are facing longer waits for care, so-called “winter pressures” in the NHS are now hitting the service all year round, and it lacks doctors, nurses, and beds.

‘This appointment comes at a crucial time for the health service and doctors want to see the new secretary of state put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future, address the serious funding shortfall and ensure we can recruit and retain the right number of doctors, with the right support and infrastructure, to deliver high quality care for patients.’

On matters relating to health, Mr Hancock has previously called for a ‘full-spectrum approach’ in addressing issues around obesity and healthy eating, and in his previous ministerial role led a cross-Government initiative on internet safety and tackling the effects of online abuse.

Speaking on Twitter, he said he was ‘really looking forward’ to taking up his new post, acknowledging that his appointment had come at ‘an important time’ for the NHS.

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