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Nursing staff may hope for change as new health secretary appointed

Tuesday 10th July 2018
Nurses may hope for better conditions as a new health secretary arrives and brings a bigger budget.
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Nurses in the NHS may be hoping for positive changes in their working circumstances following the departure of former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and his replacement by Matt Hancock. 

Mr Hunt had been health secretary since 2012, becoming the longest-serving holder of the post last month. His tenure has been a controversial one, with issues such as NHS reform and the imposition of new contracts for doctors among the areas where he proved a contentious and often unpopular figure. 

Having been appointed as the new foreign secretary yesterday (July 10th), following the resignation of Boris Johnson, Mr Hunt acknowledged the tensions his tenure had often produced as he tweeted about his time in the post.

He said: "Massive wrench for me to leave health - I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec, but the NHS, and particularly patient safety, has become my passion & it really was the greatest privilege of my life to serve for so many years."

Many health staff had rather different sentiments as they welcomed Mr Hunt's departure. Some Twitter users said his departure was the best 70th birthday present the NHS could have had. 

Issues such as staffing levels and the hours worked by nurses - not to mention the controversy over the suggestion that the health service was providing an inferior service at weekends - had turned nurses and other NHS employees against Mr Hunt. 

Naturally, Mr Hunt warmly endorsed his successor, but it remains to be seen how Mr Hancock will approach the job. Key issues will include how nurses will fare as the new health secretary has the opportunity to spend more freely, thanks to the recently announced major cash boost for the NHS. 

Previously the culture secretary, Mr Hancock may focus much of his initial attention on the new NHS app, which Mr Hunt has championed and said would be "in safe hands". 

Written by James Puckle

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