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Friend or foe: can doctors trust Jeremy Hunt with the NHS?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 07 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6071
  1. Richard Vize, freelance journalist
  1. 1London, UK
  1. richard.vize{at}

How will England’s new health secretary perform in carrying on the government’s reconfiguration of the NHS? Richard Vize considers the evidence

Jeremy Hunt’s first steps as health secretary for England were inelegant. He tripped this week over a parliamentary early day motion that he had signed five years ago supporting homeopathic hospitals and also a letter to a constituent supporting homeopathy.

The Department of Health claimed that his views had “moved on,” but it is a stumbling start that will focus attention on whether he bases his decisions on evidence. As one prominent medical figure put it: “This has attracted considerable comment. He needs to remember doctors are scientists. There is now considerable scepticism [about him], and he will have to prove himself.”

Among other forays into health he has contributed to a book describing the NHS as a “60 year mistake” (but was more sanguine about universal healthcare), and he voted for the abortion limit to be cut from 24 to 12 weeks.

The MP for affluent, rural South West Surrey has campaigned to protect local services—Haslemere Community Hospital and the emergency department at Royal Surrey County Hospital …

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