What Jeremy Hunt must prioritise now he's back in post

Nursing Standard editor Graham Scott sets out what the reappointed health secretary should do first

So Jeremy Hunt is back in his office at Richmond House, home of the Department of Health in London, for the foreseeable future and against expectations. Even he must have thought that his time was up. Attention will now focus on what he should do next given his new lease of life, so here’s what Nursing Standard would like him to tackle first.

  1. Pop round to see the new chancellor, Philip Hammond, and demand that nursing staff are given a pay rise. Tell him that NHS workers have suffered enough austerity for a financial crisis that was not of their making, and need to be rewarded fairly. Reinstate the NHS Pay Review Body with an unfettered remit.
  2. While you’re there, advise Mr Hammond that charging tuition fees to nursing students was a barmy idea pushed his predecessor and that a discreet u-turn is needed. Instead, keep paying bursaries, increase the number of places being commissioned and commit to maintaining student numbers for the next five years at least.
  3. Next stop is the new ministry for Brexit. Your task here is to impress on the new secretary of state, David Davis, that for all its faults the European Union helped promote and protect workers’ rights. So regulations on working time and sharps disposal, for example, need to preserved in the interest of staff and patient safety.
  4. Back in your own office, it’s time to address the issue of safe staffing levels. Everyone knows that patients enjoy better outcomes when they are cared for by well educated registered nurses. Start a campaign on Twitter that has the hashtag #QualityCostsLess – it would go viral in no time and show you mean business.

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