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Hunt gives first official speech as Health Secretary

9 October 2012

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NHS managers shouldn’t expect to keep their jobs where patient care is failing, the Health Secretary has said in his first official speech in post.

Addressing the Conservative party conference in Birmingham today (9 October 2012), Jeremy Hunt started by thanking the “extraordinary dedication” of GPs, doctors, nurses and other health professionals”.

He also gave a nod to his predecessor Andrew Lansley, who was sitting in the front row, and described his reforms as “brave, right and will make the NHS stronger” to a round of applause from delegates.

“Andrew gave us the structures, I want to be the Secretary of State to transform the culture of the NHS to make it the best in the world in looking after older people,” said Hunt.

He also revealed he has already called in regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) to assess how NHS managers will be held to account for the care given in their organisations.

“I need to say this to all mangers, you will be held responsible for care,” he said.

“You wouldn’t expect to keep your job is you lost control of the finances, don’t expect to keep it if you lose control of care.”

Hospitals will also be assessed on the number of recommendations they receive from their patients.

Speaking exclusively to GP Business, Lansley said he was “delighted” to hear Hunt’s speech and agreed with his focus on quality and outcomes.

“We have done the heavy lifting in terms of trying to give the people in the NHS the opportunity to ally decision making in the health service to their priorities and the outcomes they are trying to achieve,” he said.

“So it is absolutely right that [Hunt] focused on the outcomes and quality plans because those are the things that the combination of reforms plus the focus of quality of care will give patients confidence in the future about NHS results.”

Lansley also said he “absolutely” had faith that Hunt is going to take the reforms forward in the way he intended to do as Health Secretary.

“We have talked about this together many times in the past so I know he will, not least because he will see for himself how people in the NHS are taking the opportunities posed by the reforms,” he said.