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EDITOR’S COMMENT

'If ministers listen, they could see success'

The first few weeks in a new job can be pretty daunting. And this will certainly be no easy transition for Jeremy Hunt and his new team of health ministers.

Three out of four of the new Department of Health team – including the man at the top, Mr Hunt himself – have limited experience or knowledge of healthcare. From his membership of the health select committee, Dan Poulter is the one best versed in all matters health, while Anna Soubry has worked as private secretary for former health minister Simon Burns.

Much of the talk after the cabinet reshuffle seemed to focus on transport because of the proposed third runway for Heathrow, but let’s hope that doesn’t distract the public from appreciating what a mammoth task awaits Hunt et al.

Arguably, there could not be a worse time to be given the keys to an office in the Department of Health.

The DH’s new quartet are charged with implementing Andrew Lansley’s NHS vision. And, let’s face it, that has been castigated by almost every nurse, doctor, journalist and member of the public since the day it was announced. With so many people saying the plans are unworkable, unproven and even dangerous, it’s going to be tough to face the questions and challenges that are bound to continue if you really don’t know the subject inside out.

I suspect Mr Hunt is going to feel like he is sitting an exam for which someone else has done all the revision.

That would be challenge enough if it was the only issue he and his new team were facing.

But Mr Hunt will also have to handle the national pay issue, and the unions will not give him an easy ride unless he acts in a way they consider to be fair.

He will also have only a short time in post before Robert Francis reveals his long-awaited report into Mid Staffs and, again, will face challenging questions on care standards.

I hope someone is telling him that their best advice is to listen. Listen to the health professionals who have spent years running their services, caring for and treating patients. Listen to those who know the commissioning and provision side of healthcare inside out. Listen to the unions and royal colleges that represent the thousands of health professionals in whose hands lies the success of any reformed service.

There are plenty of people who can offer excellent advice on how best to do things in the NHS – someone in government just needs to listen.

jenni.middleton@emap.com. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed

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Readers' comments (57)

  • Ministers, Listen?!?!?! Hahahahahaha!!! This is why politics has no place in healthcare! Or education, policing or any public service for that matter.

    Barely ANY of the politicians in charge of major departments have any experience in the fields they are in charge of. Many are career politicians with no work experience at all, who just get posted to a nice little cushy number for themselves. It's a joke. They come in with bright (read moronic) ideas and sweeping changes without listening to any of the experts or professionals they are supposedly in charge of because they want to make a name for themselves and know full well when they cock it all up, they'll just get shuffled onto a new cushy post. What a p**s take.

    They have no incentive to listen. So they won't. The NHS is done for. The nursing profession will be decimated and nurses have only themselves to blame for not fighting. I'm glad I'm out of nursing now, I urge all of you who can or are able to find a new career to do so. Those who can't, well good luck, my wishes go with you.

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  • "The nursing profession will be decimated and nurses have only themselves to blame for not fighting."

    aren't nurses employed and paid to nurse rather than fight?

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  • 'I suspect Mr Hunt is going to feel like he is sitting an exam for which someone else has done all the revision.

    I hope someone is telling him that their best advice is to listen. Listen to the health professionals who have spent years running their services, caring for and treating patients'

    Ministers don't get appointed to listen - they already have a position !

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2012 1:53 pm aren't ANY employee supposed to stand up and fight when working conditions, pay, etc are attacked? It is not about what we get paid to do, but what we SHOULD be doing to protect ourselves and our profession! It is people such as you which has let the government, managers and everyone else who has put the boot into nurses get away with it. You should be ashamed.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2012 5:07 pm


    "It is people such as you..."

    who are these people such as me?



    "You should be ashamed"

    for asking a question?


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  • 'If ministers listen, they could see success'

    Eh? Could you say that again? I wasn't listening.

    love and stuff,

    The Minister

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2012 1:53 pm

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  • "The nursing profession will be decimated and nurses have only themselves to blame for not fighting."

    figuratively speaking of course!

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2012 1:53 pm

    You make a very good point. As a nurse who has walked the walk (ie. taken part in industrial action in a variety of ways), I often ask myself why I should have to fight to protect my patients and my colleagues. I came into nursing to nurse. I believe that is where all my energies should be directed and that conditions should exist to facilitate this. It saddens and frustrates me that so much of my nursing career has been spent just struggling to overcome one unneccessary barrier after another. I am proud to stand with people such as you.

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  • The only people Davis Hunt will be listening to are the private health providers who are already scrambling for their slice of the NHS cake. No doubt he will give them are a very attentive ear, just as he did to Rupert Murdock.This man is a disgrace and should have been sacked, not promoted, It shows David Cameron's contempt for the public that he did so. These toffs don't listen, they think they know it all already.

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  • Jenni, your apparent innocence at the way politicians operate could be thought of as charming, however as editor of Nursing Times, it is just alarming. May I suggest you update yourself to the real world of politics before writing any more editorials on Jeremy Hunt. If you care to read through the readers comments here, that will be a good start. The Guardian has also published some excellent articles on NHS policy analysis.

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  • I would like to know Cameron's motive for his choice.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Sep-2012 7:15 am


    Cameron probably chose Hunt because he had him by the 'short and curlies' as they say after the BskyB scandal. Keep your enemies close or they will spill the beans.

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  • I want to know Cameron's motives for his choice and not just wild speculation and assumptions which lead nowhere and help nobody. He must have his reasons which may be perfectly valid. I guessed I would lay my comments open to vacuous remarks instead of some reasoned debate although I thought it was worth a try.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Sep-2012 8:01 am

    if you do a little research, digging, you might find the answers for yourself. It's all out there, mostly. Don't rely on others to do it all for you and then reply with your own' vacuous' comment.

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  • well, tinkerbell

    i am very sorry but I don't happen to have found it, otherwise obviously my post would have been different and am entitled to post a comment about it. why can't we have some serious adult debate in NT for a change and share information in what is supposed to be a professional nursing journal.

    You raise some very valid points but it is a shame you taint many with offensive remarks against others, mainly members of the government. like you, they are people and fellow human beings with a job to do even though you many not consider they do it well. Criticising what they are doing is one thing and very important but making childish personal remarks is quite another and does not become your professional status.

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  • tinkerbell

    and don't drag my vacuous cleaner into this, it's mighty fine, with good suction.

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  • I am interested in the rationale behind Cameron's choice of Hunt as minister of health and have been unable to find this in the resources I have available to me. I believe this has not been disclosed, such is the 'transparency' of the democratic government.

    The only information I have been able to find is from NT based on speculation but does not come from Cameron himself



    "He is clearly someone who the prime minister trusts with communicating the vision - as well as executing it."

    http://www.nursingtimes.net/5048941.article

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  • michael stone

    There is a perfectly valid thread of 'what are Cameron's motives ?' here - but these people are politicians.

    Cameron et al claim they want the NHS to remain much as it was (publically-funded and reasonably universal in coverage) but they also clearly believe in privately-run organisations, and some of us think many Tories don't actually want the NHS in anything remotely like its present form.

    So it makes no real sense, to try and establish Cameron's motives - instead, we need to examine the consequences of his ACTIONS.

    Sorry that the above is 'O'-level analysis, but it might as well be stated !

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 12-Sep-2012 8:01 am

    It is always worth trying for reasoned debate - I find the quest can often end in failure, but it is worth the attempt.

    And it isn't only on NT, where achieving reasoned debate is challenging - it happens all over the place ! But NT posts have the virtue of being deliberately funny at times, and I'm all for that !

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