Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Body Politic

Can Jeremy Hunt please explain?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 19 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6208
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}

With so much still to work out, will the incoming health secretary do a better job of communicating his government’s vision for the NHS in England than his predecessor?

Explaining the Health and Social Care Act was a task that constantly eluded Andrew Lansley, even though he was its author. Will his successor as England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt,1 do any better? He was appointed to the job apparently because Number 10 Downing Street believed him to be a better communicator, though evidence for this is scant. Certainly he communicated well enough with News Corporation during its unsuccessful bid for Sky, but I’m not sure that this is quite what the prime minister had in mind.

Looking on the bright side, however, Hunt does have certain advantages. Lansley’s narrative, such as it was, related to what he believed the act to be. But the result of the endless trims and tucks that enabled it finally to be enacted meant that what he said and what was actually happening were wildly divergent. Hunt is liberated from that constraint, giving him a better chance of telling it like it is. That’s an admittedly small consolation, but he must make the best of it he can.

The intention of the bill was to liberate and …

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