The new health and social care secretary has used her first speech in post to highlight the importance of ‘partnership’ working across primary and secondary care settings.
Speaking at the NHS Providers conference today, Victoria Atkins also said that delivering the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan for winter would be her ‘number one priority’.
And she highlighted the government’s long-term workforce and other recovery plans.
Ms Atkins recognised there was ‘a lot of work to do’ to ensure the health service was ‘in fighting fit form for our children and our grandchildren’.
In addition, she said that building on government reforms to ‘create strong and integrated care systems across England’ would be ‘a shared endeavour’, she added.
‘And it will require all of us to work in partnership. Across our acute hospitals, mental health, community, general practice, and pharmacy,’ Ms Atkins told the conference.
While stressing the coming winter ‘will be challenging’, she told delegates: ‘I know that rising to such challenges is what you all do so well.’
‘You’ve overcome a once in a generation pandemic. You’ve tackled the longest waits for care it left behind. And you’re delivering reforms that will give patients more choice and control over their care,’ she added.
In addition, she noted that ‘clear recovery plans’, ‘financial certainty for the rest of the year’ and ‘the first-ever, fully funded, reform-focused, long-term workforce plan’ were in place.
Ms Atkins also committed to ‘getting around the table’ regarding NHS staff industrial action, saying: ‘I want to see a fair and reasonable resolution.’
The Lincolnshire MP was appointed as health secretary earlier this week following a Cabinet Reshuffle that saw prime minister Rishi Sunak appointing Ms Atkins to succeed Steve Barclay.
Responding to her appointment on Monday, the Royal College of Nursing’s chief nurse Professor Nicola Ranger said the new health secretary’s first priority ‘must be to get the NHS the extra funding it needs in next week’s autumn statement’.
Meanwhile, Neil O’Brien resigned from his position as primary care minister on Monday, saying that he wanted to focus on constituency work and time with his family. His replacement is yet to be confirmed.