This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

GPs go forth

Let's give our new health secretary a chance - he has a lot of mess to clear up

Dr Pete Deveson

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

They say that you know you’re getting old when the police officers start looking younger; well, Matt Hancock’s appearance at the Department of Health and Social Care has had a similar effect on me.

He’s the eighth health secretary under whose auspices I’ve been privileged to toil, but the first one who’s younger than I am. Of course, I’ve aged substantially in the several millennia that have passed since the appointment of his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, whose departure to the Foreign Office inspired scenes of sombre reflection in practices across the country, but still.

In becoming foreign secretary, Jezza performed the same deft trick as when he took over from Lansley at health; bide your time until the current incumbent has totally soiled his basket and then step in as the ‘let’s-face-it-literally-anyone-could-do-a-better-job-than-the-last-muppet’ candidate.

When you consider the abysmal track record of our current Prime Minister and the motley crew of cranks and incompetents waiting in the wings to try to bump her off, you can’t help but wonder whether he’ll be trying it again in the not-too-distant future.

So, what’s the new boss going to be like? Like Mr Hunt before him, Mr Hancock has an NHS lapel pin and a name ripe for comedic spoonerisation, and he also appears to share Jeremy’s belief that technology is the answer to our ongoing workforce calamity.

Of 4,428 words in his maiden speech, the abbreviation GP only appeared seven times, and two of those were a puff for the Babylon GP at Hand app which the new health secretary says ‘works brilliantly’.

This looks like further championing of access over continuity, just as we learn that seeing the same regular doctor is associated with a reduced risk of premature death. There’s no mention of the presumably-kicked-into-the-long-grass-forever 5,000 GP-target, which is just as well, since 400 newly-qualified GPs face being hostile-environmented out of the country just as their training is paid for.

And Mr Hancock’s proposed increase in nurse practitioners to ‘free up doctors’ may be in trouble given that applications for nurse training are down by a third following Mr Hunt’s removal of the nurse training bursary; yet another skid left on the Richmond House pan for his successor to scrub off.

Still, I’m willing to give Mr Hancock a chance. He’s new, he’s said he’s willing to listen, and let’s face it, literally anyone could do better than the last muppet.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey


Rate this article  (3.21 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (8)

  • Dear Pete
    You've fallen for same-old, same-old political bs...
    Hunt was and continues to be a ...
    But Hancock has amply demonstrated his ignorant opinionated intentions from the get-go and will reck havoc on an unprecedented scale.
    It's almost the unthinkable 'please bring back Hunt'.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mr Hancock described the low morale of NHS staff as heartbreaking; he never said his heart was actually broken though, which is a good job because it takes ages to see a cardiologist.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It’s like me being appointed as head of a bank for some reason. I would shut up and listen for a very long time while hitting the books hard 24/7 before I express any opinion no matter how small. But that just me .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Agrred pete.
    even in theese early minutes he has shown himself to be a complete and utter Hancock.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I was giving him a chance but in the 14 days since he has taken over he has:
    - Said that improving GP recruitment was vital and he will take steps to make GPs feel wanted.
    - Then over-ruled the independent (albeit government appointment) DDRB advice (of a 4% pay increase) to instead give GPs a real terms pay cut.

    It took him just 14 days to lose the trust of primary care. Well done.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So, any of you moaners actually got any positive suggestions rather than infantile yarboos?
    Here is one: get all politicians to unite and tell the public what the NHS can actually do, followed by a list of inappropriate lifestyle choices (obesity, smoking, drugs, alcohol)which you, the public need to sort out yourselves, and stop wasting time and resources in expecting someone else to sort out for you.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    There are some GPs who are ministers
    can we at least insist that the health minsiter has some experience of the NHS????

    Lions led by donkeys
    its just insulting when the top of the pyramid has no clue
    Or is it like The emperors
    where the emperor is just a child?

    The NHS cannot afford to be messed around

    Jeremy hunt deserved a vote of no confidence
    we bit our lips and tolerated him

    Unless the profession gives Matt a vote of no confidence then we will have a front seat to its demise..

    Too late when its gone

    Why does BMA state things are unacceptable
    Then carries on (having accepted them?)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Because the BMA are a loads of baby cats

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say