Reflecting perfectly the political prose of late, Brexit dominates today’s papers and the big news in Health must play out in the background. However, Jeremy Hunt has left his position as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to take up his role as Foreign Secretary, and what is to follow will be of much significance for the health sector and wider life sciences industry.
With the departure of the Brexit Secretary David Davis and Boris Johnson from the FO, just days after the Chequers Summit, the handover now underway at DHSC may get little press attention for now.
However, for once it seems clear that Mrs May had a plan. She had prepared for the potential departure of two of her ‘big beasts’ – thorns in her side at every Brexit step – and likely had Matt Hancock MP lined up to replace Hunt for a while.
We are unlikely to see any shake-up of the other ministerial team at DHSC, at least not before the summer recess, and there is much we already know about the new incumbent. The legacy from Hunt – patient safety of course but also on harnessing technology at the NHS, genomics and innovation, will be carried forward with expertise by Mr Hancock. He may not have any obvious Health background, but his skills and experience (covered shortly by us here for you) will stand him in good stead for the challenges facing the NHS.
With the NHS 70th birthday celebrations over, the new funding settlement for the NHS agreed and the milestone of having served as the longest ever Health Secretary surpassed, it seems this time Hunt got the promotion he was after.