Jeremy Hunt’s reappointment as health secretary will provide continuity for the sector, senior pharmacy figures have told C+D.
Prime Minister David Cameron reinstated Mr Hunt yesterday (May 11) following the Conservative’s party’s election victory last week. Mr Hunt took on the role in 2012 and oversaw the commissioning reforms the following year.
Numark managing director John D’Arcy said Mr Hunt’s reappointment was a “good thing” for pharmacy. “He had three years to understand the people he’s working with – the continuity linked with experience should put us in reasonable stead,” Mr D’Arcy told C+D.
But he said that ultimately it “doesn’t matter who is doing the job”. “The fundamental problem is trying to match supply [in the NHS] with demand. The ability of one individual to influence [that] is limited,” he added.
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said he was glad that the sector did not “have to start again” with a new health secretary. Mr Hunt had visited two pharmacies in the past six months – including Kaye’s Chemist in Cornwall – which showed he had some familiarity with the community pharmacists’ role, Mr Darrcott told C+D.
“It is also nice when the secretary of state wants the job. He has a focus on patient safety and wants to carry on with his direction of travel,” he added.
Mr Darracott stressed that it “had to be good” that the NHS would not undergo another reorganisation, because the most recent reforms had “paralysed the service for three years”.
‘Benefits and risks’
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni said Mr Hunt’s reappointment brought both benefits and risks for the sector. “He understands the financial challenge [to the NHS] and the opportunity pharmacy offers,” Mr Soni told C+D.
However, the health secretary had “known what pharmacy can offer but failed to use [its] value” so far, he added.
Mr Hunt said his "biggest priority" was to "transform care outside of hospitals". "We need a step change in services offered through GP surgeries, community care and social care - that is my mission," he said today (May 12).
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt was appointed as minister of state at the Department of Health (DH) yesterday, while Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state for the DH this morning. The DH told C+D yesterday that it had made no announcement on whether Earl Howe would remain pharmacy minister.