29 June 2021
Sajid Javid has been appointed Health and Social Care Secretary following the resignation of his predecessor Matt Hancock, who stepped down after CCTV photographs were leaked of him kissing an aide inside the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) building on 6 May 2021.
Sajid Javid has held various ministerial positions over the years, including that of Home Secretary under Theresa May, Chancellor under Boris Johnson and has also been Culture Secretary.
Over the weekend, the new health secretary said that his priority is to return the country to “normal as soon and as quickly as possible”. He said: “I just want to start by saying I think Matt Hancock worked incredibly hard. He achieved a lot, and I’m sure he will have more to offer in public life. I was honoured to take up this position. I also know that it comes with huge responsibility. And I will do everything I can to make sure that I deliver for the people of this great country.”
British Medical Association (BMA) Chair of Council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said Sajid Javid has “a huge and urgent task ahead”, to ensure completing the roll-out of the adult vaccination programme at rapid pace to control spiralling infection rates. He said: “He must also put forward a credible plan to tackle a backlog of care of unprecedented scale whilst at the same time rebuilding the trust of doctors and the wider healthcare workforce.”
He said the new secretary of state must show he understands the challenge of frontline doctors and staff suffering burnout and mental ill health as a result of the pandemic, listen to NHS staff on the upcoming Health and Care Bill reforms, and ensure doctors are able to take leave, rest and regroup before “tackling the biggest waiting list the NHS has ever seen”.
He urged Sajid Javid to think again about the Government’s 1% pay proposal which he said risked “driving a generation of senior, experienced doctors into early retirement”.
BMA Vice President Dr Kailash Chand said: “The badly timed NHS legislation need to be halted immediately.”
One of Sajid Javid’s biggest priorities will need to be social care. The Government promised detailed plans for the reform of social care by the end of 2021.
National Care Forum (NCF) Chief Executive Vic Rayner told the Guardian newspaper: “The social care sector needs Sajid Javid to urgently take forward the agenda around reform. It is not possible for there to be any further delay on this.”
She added: “It is vital that his ambition for social care extends beyond a quick fix, and that he will secure a long-term future that is strong on ambition, and backed by an unambiguous investment agenda that ensures that social care that we all want and need is available to change lives now and in the future.”
Failures by Matt Hancock to protect care homes during the pandemic have been highlighted recently, including a national shortage of PPE, which he recently denied. He also defended the Government's decision not to test hospital patients entering care homes early in the pandemic, saying he was advised by clinicians that infection control in care homes and testing of care home staff were “the most important thing”.