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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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  • The NHS is being moved away from the provider model of care to a commissioning only model. The non-profit sectors will be kept in the NHS. For now. So for those of you who work in trauma or cancer, the pain of losing your in NHS job will come later.

    Hunt will push the reforms through like a zealot to avoid the political failures of Lansley. Hunt believes that the free market should provide healthcare because it can have better outcomes more efficiently. And if you look at the American system, this is true. Well, sort of. Most chronic conditions are not funded by the state or are excluded from private insurance policies, so go untreated and outcomes are not counted. The elephant in the room, of course, is that the the new model is beating a path toward the American system, which serves only those with the ability to pay. and however you dress it up, this is the heart of tory ideology. The NHS is a 60 year old mistake, according to Hunt: all those people treated successfully and against the odds and efficiently, yet many if the American system is adopted are simply left to rot. Andthe NHS is a Mistake? I don't think so.

    Most of us are in this for altuistic reasons. To be a force for good and improve the lives of others. You can't measure any of that in many ways, yet Hunt is only interested in the free market economy and the fastest route to making a swift buck. This is the Tory way, and Hunt is not ashamed of it.

    Contrast that to my deep shame at our inability to use the potential political clout that we have to continue stop this madness in it's tracks rather than worship at the altar of the fast buck for shareholders.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 5-Sep-2012 12:50 pm

    I completely agree. If something is 'wrong' it doesn't matter how well you communicate it, it remains wrong.

    Do his reforms serve the greater good? Well only if you are stinking rich. It might be right for them but for the majority of us it is wrong.

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  • excellent communicators can sell anything - banks and insurances are leading examples but it still doesn't make it right.

    perhaps there are advantages in poor communications as the fraud can be detected and addressed sooner.

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  • tinkerbell

    No think you'll find this is the reason. Shameless.

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  • Could this have been the reason? He was obviously in a rush and had to set his priorities!

    "I broke off reshuffle to help my children with 'Furry Bear', David Cameron reveals
    David Cameron has admitted that he broke off from his first Cabinet reshuffle to help one of his children write a poem about Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne's "Furry Bear"."

    "Furry Bear

    By A. A. Milne 1882–1956

    If I were a bear,
    And a big bear too,
    I shouldn’?t much care
    If it froze or snew;
    I shouldn’?t much mind
    If it snowed or friz—
    I’?d be all fur-lined
    With a coat like his!

    For I’?d have fur boots and a brown fur wrap,
    And brown fur knickers and a big fur cap.
    I’?d have a fur muffle-ruff to cover my jaws,
    And brown fur mittens on my big brown paws.
    With a big brown furry-down up to my head,
    I’?d sleep all the winter in a big fur bed.

    A. A. Milne, “Furry Bear” from The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh. Copyright © The Trustees of the Pooh Properties reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Limited, London.

    Source: The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh (Dutton, 1998)"

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  • good article on what could have motivated Cameron to this strange behaviour in the middle of important government business. Could such a bizarre turn of events be a sign of escapism (early exit), repression and a return to an earlier stage of development? It seems a matter of concern.

    I think although he obviously wants to show his family that he is a good dad and put his children first, he is also trying to tell this to the world that he is just a 'normal' dad like anyone else but I am not sure whether this is what people wish to hear at the moment and maybe such personal affairs are best kept private. He is probably making himself the butt of further accusations by the press, colleagues and the public of what is considered by many as his ineptness in some areas and of ridicule.

    "Sketch: David Cameron and the ballad of Furry Bear"

    A number of books of advice have been written on Tao, Philosophy, Psychology, Management and how to be successful with Pooh as the central figure. Perhaps now is time for his pearls of wisdom on good governance which could be published in the form of a handbook for politicians!

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  • tinkerbell

    µ | 6-Sep-2012 12:22 pm

    Love A A Milne

    'Now we are six' i bought when i was probably six.

    Off the top of my head

    A bear however hard he tries
    grows tubby without exercise,
    my bear is big and round and fat
    which is not to be wondered at
    he gets what exercise he can
    falling off the ottoman

    Ah yes i remember it well.

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  • tinkerbell | 6-Sep-2012 1:39 pm

    µ | 6-Sep-2012 12:22 pm

    they are lovely but I think the PM has more important things to think about right now. his kids are probably his most important thing but surely his poetry writing could have waited until he had finished his job re-shovelling around his government?

    strange cabinet in French means w.c. although it does have many other uses as well as the ministerial kind.

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  • tinkerbell

    you reshuffle a load of idiots, you're still left with a load of idiots.

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  • tinkerbell

    rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic?

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