Jeremy Hunt has been reappointed as health secretary for a record third time in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Hunt, who entered 10 Downing Street wearing his NHS lapel pin shortly after 4pm yesterday afternoon, was confirmed in his position nearly an hour later.
Having previously been quoted as saying that his would be his ‘last big job in politics’, Hunt will have held the position for five years this September, making him the longest serving health secretary.
However, the health secretary will be forced to select new health ministers after two out of three, David Mowat and Nicola Blackwood, lost their seats in last week’s general election.
In the election, Mr Hunt saw a 4.1% decrease in his majority in his South West Surrey constituency, which was also contested by National Health Action candidate, Dr Louise Irvine, who received 20% of the vote.
Mr Hunt was up against local GP, Dr Louise Irvine, who stood for the National Health Action party and saw an 11.5% increase in her votes from the 2015 election.
Leaders in healthcare have praised the ‘valuable continuity’ and experience in his reappointment ‘at a time of enormous challenge for the NHS’.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said: ‘He has already made an important contribution in this role, particularly through his commitment to improving patient safety. We look forward to working with him and his ministerial team.’
However, Mr Hopson outlined five priorities for the health secretary, including better winter planning, ensuring more NHS funding in 2017 Budget and addressing workforce challenges.
‘I welcome Jeremy Hunt’s re-appointment as Secretary of State for Health,’ Jackie Smith, Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar, said.
‘It is a hugely important time for nursing and midwifery as well as the wider health and care system.
‘There are a number of critical issues across the regulatory landscape including the urgent need for clarity around the future of EU nurses and midwives working in the UK, the introduction of nursing associates and the pressing need for regulatory reform. I look forward to working closely with Mr Hunt on these and other important issues,’ Smith said.
Nurse advisor, Marilyn Eveleigh commented on Mr Hunt’s reappointment: ‘It’s a message saying Business as usual but nurses know that the business is really struggling.
‘I think the public would like to see their nurses treated better.
‘No one from the Conservative party attended the RCN Congress when the other parties did. It felt quite a slight and it did not endear nurses to them. It did not reduce the risk that there will be a summer of discontent.’