Intended for healthcare professionals


What does Prime Minister Johnson mean for the NHS?

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 30 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4936
  1. Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight, London, UK
  1. andycowper{at}

Boris Johnson’s pledges to improve the NHS have yet to be backed by practical detail

For once, an important vote went the way that the vast majority of pundits predicted, and the Conservative and Unionist Party elected Boris Johnson as its new leader and thus the UK’s new prime minister.

Johnson defeated his rival, the former health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, taking two thirds of the Conservative membership’s votes. It remains a striking sign of the priorities of the Tory membership that Johnson—a person manifestly unsuited to being prime minister1—was so overwhelmingly the preferred choice of party members.

Hunt is not beloved of junior doctors for his intransigence during the contract dispute but is regarded across parliament as a serious figure whose tenure at the Foreign Office was serious and effective. The “Has to be Hunt” campaign was more effective and livelier …

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