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New Health Secretary says workforce, technology and prevention will be priorities

Matt Hancock, the new Health and Social Care Secretary, outlined the NHS workforce, technology and prevention as his key priorities, in his first speech in the role.

He started by acknowledging that budgets have been tight since 2010, and that “the pressures have ramped up year on year”.

Hancock recognised that social care budgets “have been under even more intense pressure”, and said we must find a way to make the whole health and social care system sustainable for the long term.

He said the Prime Minister’s recent commitment to increase NHS funding by an average 3.4% per year in real terms over the next 5 years would make the NHS sustainable in the medium term.

He highlighted three areas where progress would drive efficiency in the health service.

On workforce, he said the NHS must strive to deliver the best training and support.

He said GPs need more assistance to tackle with their substantial workloads, with extra training for pharmacists to support them.

Hancock said he also wanted more advanced nurse practitioners in hospitals, “providing more comprehensive care for patients while freeing up doctors to carry out more of the tasks they trained to do”.

He also called for a greater diversity in leadership and a change in culture with “less of a division between management and clinical staff – we are one NHS”.

He called for greater use of technology to save time and money, and improve patient safety.

He said: “Only in health and care has new technology always seemed to lead to inexorably higher costs. In every other area of life, innovation reduces waste and drives costs down not up.

“We’ve got to make that happen in health and care too.

“There is huge variance in take-up, leading to variance in outcomes with patients getting different outcomes based on where they live. This variance must reduce.”

Hancock outlined a £400 million budget to improve new technology in hospitals.

On prevention, he said people should be empowered to manage their own physical and mental health needs closer to home.

The integration of the NHS and social care and wider services in local government is also vital to getting this right, said Hancock.

He promised that the issues would be addressed in the Green Paper on social care to be published in the autumn.

“Whether from the social care providers looking after the most vulnerable in society to NHS England commissioning services, to every GP practice and every public health official and everyone who provides care for their fellow citizen – family or stranger alike,” he said.

“One NHS and social care system, working together to improve patient safety and outcomes.”

Matt Hancock is the MP for West Suffolk and was previously the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Read the full speech.


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