Prime Minister Theresa May has reappointed Jeremy Hunt as health secretary in her new minority Government following last week’s general election.
Mr Hunt, already the longest-serving health secretary, was reelected as MP for South West Surrey after receiving 56% of the public vote in his constituency.
He had been challenged by NHS Action Party candidate and GP, Dr Louise Irvine, who came second with 20% of the vote.
Ms May appointed her cabinet yesterday, after announcing on Friday she would form a minority Government shored up by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
But Mr Hunt will be forced to appoint a new team of health ministers after two out of three lost their MP seats in the election, including primary care minister David Mowat and public health minister Nicola Blackwood.
And the announcement of Mr Hunt’s reappointment was not universally popular with GPs, who took to Twitter to express their concern.
Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggitt said that Mr Hunt’s NHS austerity policies were harming patient care.
I don’t know Jeremy Hunt as a man, but the policies he is enacting are harming UK citizens. Human beings are sufferring because of politics.
— DrDean (@DeanEggitt) June 11, 2017
And Dr Zoe Norris, a GP in Hull and the chair of the BMA’s sessional GP committee, said simply:
— Dr Zoe Norris (@dr_zo) June 11, 2017
Mr Hunt, who replaced Andrew Lansley as health secretary five years ago, has been the person in charge of overseeing the rollout of Mr Lansley’s largely unpopular Health and Social Care Act 2012 reforms, including the formation of NHS England and competitive tenders for all healthcare contracts.
He also faced the wrath of the health profession for imposing the new junior doctor contract last year.
He has yet to react to his latest reappointment, having said last summer following the post-Brexit referendum reshuffle that he was ‘thrilled to be back in the best job in government’.
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who will become chair of the BMA at the end of this month, told Pulse: ‘The overriding issue for the NHS is government austerity policy and its denial of the pressures in the NHS and growing health care needs.
‘Until we address this fundamental issue and have change of the austerity policy, from the top, then whoever the health secretary is is a secondary issue.’
Dr Nagpaul added that until the issue of a ‘bankrupt NHS budget’ was addressed, ensuring general practice receives the required funding will be ‘impossible’.