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'Why Cameron has handed Lansley's NHS vision to Hunt'


Andrew Lansley’s departure from the Department of Health has come as something of a shock to many who felt confident that he would survive the cabinet reshuffle.

During his time in office, the former secretary of state has faced many challenges from those in opposition but most notably from members of the public and health professionals. The heckling by June Hautot and Dr Ron Singer would have left even the most robust politicians bruised and bloodied, but so supremely confident was he that he was doing the right thing that Lansley refused to enter into the debate and sailed out of those scenarios without a visible scratch.

Having worked in health for nearly ten years in opposition and in government, Lansley had rolled up his sleeves and met patients and staff the length and breadth of the country.

During his time in office, I attended many events that the former health secretary spoke at - our Nursing Times Awards in 2011, The Florence Nightingale Foundation Conference and the launch event of the Chief Clinical Information Officers campaign earlier this year. At every event he spoke at he was keen to show just how much he knew about the health service. He would mention hospitals he had visited, nurses he had spoken to and projects that he had seen first hand that were working.

It was the verbal equivalent of turning up to events wearing a T-shirt that said “I understand health”.

Yet despite that, it didn’t win him legions of fans among the ranks of the health service. When clinicians heard his master plan to transform the NHS and the way it is run the majority remained unconvinced.

Lansley’s challenges weren’t just that he was making the biggest changes to the NHS in its 60-year history, but that he often couldn’t engage clinicians to join him in the journey - or clearly explain his vision.

While no one can deny Lansley had knowledge, expertise and experience in health, those who criticised him felt he didn’t exploit those attributes to deepen his understanding. The “listening exercise” that was initiated at the Royal College of Nursing congress in 2011 seemed only to be going through the motions and offer a deaf ear to nurses’ concerns after all.

Mr Hunt’s appointment has been welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association because they see it as an opportunity to make a fresh start - diplomacy on their part, but also optimism that he will listen carefully.

But the response from the Government is very much that the reforms will continue as usual so there will not be fundamental change.

So, top of his priorities will likely be to rekindle the relationships with healthcare professionals who have felt disenfranchised from the reforms. He is clearly someone who the prime minister trusts with communicating the vision - as well as executing it.

Now we have to see whether he can accomplish that.

Book your tickets for the Nursing Times Awards at Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Chat live with the editor and other nurses on Twitter this Wednesday at 1pm at #NTtwitchat to discuss the appointment of Jeremy Hunt.


Readers' comments (63)

  • Hunt has absolutely no integrity. Make no mistake, he lied to Parliament and has happliy let a peon under his employ take a fall for him; he should have resigned and spared us what I suspect will be an ill fated dabble with our health service. Oh to be a friend of David Cameron!

    On a more personal note, he is a smug looking fool, with a face that just begs to be slapped.

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  • No!

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  • Thank god Lansley is out! Good riddance, he will not be missed. However it is too little too late, the damage has already been irreversably done.

    Oh, and I for one will deny the idiot had ANY knowledge, experience or expertise in health!!!

    And Hunt? We will recieve no better treatment from him. I have no doubt he will 'execute the vision' in the same vicious way the government have been doing so far. After all, the response from the Government is very much that the reforms will continue as usual so there will not be fundamental change, isn't it? As for 'communicating it', well we don't need it communicating!! Lansleys problem was not that we poor, thick health professionals couldn't understand his vision because he wasn't communicating it very well, his problem was that we understood well and good and turned round and said it was crap! We understand exactly what this 'vision' is all about and it has been vociferously slammed by nurses, doctors and all health professionals alike. Continuing to 'pursuade' us of its so called merits is NOT communicating. The fact that you repeat this patronising crap in this article Jenni shows that you aren't exactly in touch with the REASONS June Hautot and Dr Ron Singer started heckling Lansley.

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  • well said anon above

    the damage has been done already, they have just replaced one muppet with another who will do exactly what cameron wants...the privitisation of our health service

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  • Why is it "patronising crap"? What exactly is patronising about it? I don't think any comment was being made on the heckles but more that Lansley hadn't listened to concerns. It's hardly a piece that is Pro-Lansley is it??????? Are we reading the same thing?

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  • Cameron is treating the NHS with disdain by appointing Hunt , who has shown himself to be both deceitful and laughable.

    This is a bad time to be ill and reliant on a totally run down NHS. Most Tory Ministers fortunately dont have to worry as they can afford Private Healthcare.

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  • do you honestly think hunt will do an excellent job as cameron has put it

    this is a man who co-wrote a book in 2009 calling the nhs a 60 year mistake!!

    the privatisation of the nhs is going on due to the incompetence of this govt and lansley, but with hunt, it will just happen quicker!!!

    what we need is a change of govt to repeal this act

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  • Anonymous | 5-Sep-2012 10:37 am, the 'patronising crap' refers to the fact that apparently all the problems that Lansley had were down to us health professionals not understanding his message, and Hunt will be an improvement because he can communicate that message to us. This gets repeated over and over, as if he is obviously right, and we are obviously wrong. Did you read the whole comment or just the end?

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  • I think the point that was being made was that he was a poor communicator, with ideas that weren't popular with health professionals - not that the ideas were good or the health professionals too thick to understand.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Sep-2012 1:06 pm, yes but the point being continuously made that all these ideas need is to be communicated better to us, to make us see the error of our ways and start praising them, is at best patronising and at worst downright insulting. Lansley (or anyone else for that matter) could be the best communicator in history, with passionate and elequant diatribes that explained in full detail what the plans for the NHS were, they would still be crap ideas that would be universally panned by the health professionals who work within the NHS!

    But we're going very slightly off topic. My main point was that the NHS will be in no better hands under Hunt as they were under Lansley. And instead of cautiously welcoming him, the RCN, the GMC and everyone else who opposes these changes should be making their position clear from the off and demanding that he repeal them. Not that that will ever happen, of course.

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