Coffee House

Jeremy Hunt: no promises on the NHS ringfence

3 October 2012

4:29 PM

3 October 2012

4:29 PM

In this week’s Spectator James Forsyth interviews new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt about how he will continue Andrew Lansley’s legacy on NHS reform. He says his ‘burning mission’ is to ‘demonstrate that we have as much to offer the NHS as Labour ever did’. But while Hunt is keen to praise the work of his predecessor, he takes a strikingly different line on the health budget. James writes:

Another striking difference between them is their views on the future of the NHS budget. When The Spectator interviewed Andrew Lansley at Christmas, he was clear that he believed that the health budget would have to carry on rising in real terms until, well, kingdom come — and that the next spending round and Tory manifesto would have to commit to that. Hunt is not prepared to guarantee this. ‘I don’t think it’s possible to make a prediction because there is so much uncertainty in the economic outlook and no one knows what is going to happen with the eurozone.’

When I push him on this apparent break with his predecessor, Hunt panics a little, and emphasises ‘how passionately committed David Cameron is to protecting the NHS budget for the very reasons that Andrew laid out’. He says: ‘I completely support that and I think that that would certainly be my instinct and David Cameron’s instinct coming to the next election.’ However, Hunt admits: ‘We would also have to have a look at the economic situation. It is something that is very, very difficult to predict.’ One thing at least, is easy to predict: given the centrality of the NHS to British politics and the Tory modernisation project, Hunt and the Chancellor will have to make their position clear pretty soon.

Hunt also suggests a cut-price version of the Dilnot recommendations on social care, which the Coalition remains committed to. He says:

‘There are other versions that might not be quite so expensive. As we come to the next spending round, which we are going to have before the next election, we are looking very hard to see if there is any way at all that we could deliver on the core principles of Dilnot.’

He also describes how being hauled over the coals on his relationship with the Murdoch dynasty was like ‘being accused of a murder that you hadn’t committed’. You can read the full interview in tomorrow’s Spectator, and online from tomorrow morning. Click here to subscribe.


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Show comments
  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.brown.5099 Steve Brown

    Hunt’ll be sacked in eighteen months anyway so why should anyone care what he ‘thinks’?

  • http://twitter.com/LoganDon don logan

    The Hunster is pure quality…real class.

  • andyfisk

    Hunt is servile to corporate power like so many of our so-called politicians. He absolutely should have been sacked. The NHS is a precious element of our society that at least until recently was economically efficient. 9.7% of our GDP with favourable outcomes and improvements in areas like cancer. Now that Mckinsey says save £20 billion and a government that accepts this without providing an alternative income such as FTT, the NHS is in deep trouble. Indeed, the Health and Social Care Act was a legalised mechanism to leverage public resources into the hands of the corporations that pay our parliamentarians. Everything else is just marketing.

    Only a servile journalist and a magazine that serves the elite would listen to the words of Hunt in a manner of respect. They are meant to be public servants, they are meant to serve us the public, yet it is ever clearer who they truly serve.

  • 2trueblue

    What most people would like to see is that they have access to the health service they have paid for/are entitled to participate in. It should not vary in quality or standard. Will Hunt deliver? Not unless he can stamp out the waste and fraud that swamps the NHS. Not sure it is possible with the lack of will in the system today. It all seems to be about the people who work in the NHS and not the patients.

    • TomTom

      It will never be uniform in quality so long as London is over-provisioned with teaching hospitals. It has the main centres and most English cities have only one hospital.

    • TomTom

      It will never be uniform in quality so long as London is over-provisioned with teaching hospitals. It has the main centres and most English cities have only one hospital.

  • Austin Barry

    The NHS budget should be ring-fenced from health tourists, but that would have an unfortunate and undeniable sub-text of racism. How much, I wonder, does adopting recondite fiscal and social positions to avoid spurious accusations of racism, with respect to the NHS or elsewhere, actually cost us?

    • 2trueblue

      I have a medical card and a national insurance card, both of these entitle me to use the system that I have paid for and am entitled to participate in. Why is it no longer necessary to produce these items to use the NHS? When our family changed doctors we had to produce same. What has changed?
      When you go to France you have to qualify there to be able to obtain medical care or pay.

      • TomTom

        You are a Patient of the PCT not the Surgery or Hospital. That change went through a few years back. It is the PCT (now abolished) that should police such matters. Hospital records are not the best on the medical side so don’t look for them to maintain a Customer Database for Payment. You really need an ID Card

      • TomTom

        You are a Patient of the PCT not the Surgery or Hospital. That change went through a few years back. It is the PCT (now abolished) that should police such matters. Hospital records are not the best on the medical side so don’t look for them to maintain a Customer Database for Payment. You really need an ID Card

    • dalai guevara

      Fair do’s. I have taken a EU national to a drop-in centre over christmas. Despite having EU Health Card in place and being p r i v a t e l y insured, the NHS could not cope with this sort of customer. We were waving £20 notes at the staff (not literally), they did not have systems in place to treat the above properly.

      If you wish to criticise the NHS for being inefficient and disorganised, criticise the NHS for being inefficient and disorganised..

  • TomTom

    NHS has 25% cancers detected in A&E but the patients don’t live long. Just what is it with money in the NHS that produces bizarre outcomes ? It is a nightmare to deal with and fails miserably to deal with serious illnesses yet seems to keep Management Consultants in Porsches and Private Equity Groups salivating as they wine and dine Alan Milburn and Andrew Lansley

    • 2trueblue

      GPs are where health issues are picked up….. or used to be. A friend took her elderly mother to the GP, and on the way out the patient asked her daughter why the doctor spent the time watching the TV rather than looking at ,or talking to her. Says it all. It begins there.

      • TomTom

        GPs are mainly female today, mainly part-time. Blame the Flowers Report. 60% Medical Students are female and will never work full-time. The GP Training was mangled under Brown and frankly GPs are not particularly good. Their main role is to restrict access to Consultants which the Treasury will not fund, so Britain has very few Consultants compared to advanced societies and access is rationed by having the GP as gatekeeper….even for private referrals

      • TomTom

        GPs are mainly female today, mainly part-time. Blame the Flowers Report. 60% Medical Students are female and will never work full-time. The GP Training was mangled under Brown and frankly GPs are not particularly good. Their main role is to restrict access to Consultants which the Treasury will not fund, so Britain has very few Consultants compared to advanced societies and access is rationed by having the GP as gatekeeper….even for private referrals

  • In2minds

    Cameron chose this! Why?

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