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Readers panel: Can health secretary Jeremy Hunt improve his standing with NHS staff?

When new prime minister Theresa May named her cabinet last week, Jeremy Hunt retained his position as health secretary. Nursing Standard readers panelists have their say on this controversial appointment 

When new prime minister Theresa May named her cabinet last week, Jeremy Hunt retained his position as health secretary. Nursing Standard readers panelists have their say on this controversial appointment


Grant Byrne (@GGByrne) is a nursing student from Glasgow
Grant Byrne
Grant Byrne

As the most unpopular health secretary of modern times, surely the only way is up for Jeremy? Luckily for him, nurses are a forgiving lot – we understand the pressures from a boss pushing for results on a budget.

To win back the trust of health professionals, Mr Hunt has to listen, especially to the unions and others speaking out against student bursary cuts. He must signal his commitment to our poorest students by finding a more reasonable alternative for the bursary. He could do this, but I won’t hold my breath.


Stephanie Cumming is a practice nurse in Warwickshire
Stephanie Cumming
Stephanie Cumming

To put it simply, no. I do not know of any colleagues, friends or even patients who have positive things to say about Jeremy Hunt. When reports of him being replaced swept social media, health professionals were jubilant. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that he was keeping his job.

Mr Hunt will face new challenges as health secretary, particularly following the Brexit vote, and needs to work hard to earn the trust and respect of NHS staff. It is vital he addresses issues important to staff, such as safe staffing and student bursaries.


Drew Payne (@drew_london) is a community staff nurse in north London
Drew Payne
Drew Payne

Jeremy Hunt needs to listen to the concerns and worries of staff and act on them. Nurses are experiencing chronic staff shortages and increasing workloads against a backdrop of no pay increase for years, and staff morale is at an all-time low.

Now the government wants to scrap the team of nurse advisers at the Department of Health. Building good relationships with health professionals has not seemed a high priority for Mr Hunt during his time as health secretary, almost the opposite. How he reacts to this will show just how much he cares about NHS staff.


Liz Charalambous (@lizcharalambou) is a staff nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Liz Charalambous
Liz Charalambous

Good leadership is vital, yet sadly lacking in the health secretary. Mr Hunt is the perfect candidate to lead the NHS into oblivion; while we are distracted by the bursary debate and junior doctors’ contracts, the government continues to privatise the NHS by nibbling away at the edges. Soon there will be nothing left, unless you can pay.

Love him or loathe him, Mr Hunt is here to stay. In years to come, we will look back in anger and see him as the architect of destruction. His legacy will be the minister who oversaw the dismantling of our beloved NHS.

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