Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been elected Health and Social Care Select Committee (HSCSC) Chair, responsible for scrutinising the Government’s NHS and social care performance, after winning a secret ballot.
At the start of each Parliament, committee chairs are elected by MPs and they reflect the parliament’s composition. The HSCSC is made up of MPs who scrutinise the “policy, administration and expenditure” of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and its associated bodies including the NHS.
Inquiries are held by the committee on subjects of its choosing with the aim of holding ministers and civil servants to account.
Jeremy Hunt replaces the committee's former Chair, Sarah Wollaston, and Liberal Democrat MP for Totnes until 2019. Last year she criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson Boris Johnson for repeatedly cancelling scheduled appearances before the Commons Liaison Committee, which she also chaired.
Some have questioned the suitability of the new HSCSC appointment, as Jeremy Hunt has been blamed for failing to deliver on social care when he was in office as Health Secretary between 2010 and 2016.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “I have no idea how Jeremy Hunt, newly elected health and social care select committee chair, can properly scrutinise the Government on health policy and practice when much of it will have been his doing.”
Jeremy Hunt's response to his selection was that he would press the Government to move quickly to build a cross-party consensus for a funding settlement for social care.
In a tweet he stated: "For my last six months as Health Secretary, social care was formally added to my responsibilities but it was not long enough to bring forward reforms or, more crucially, a funding settlement for social care.
"That is what I will be pressing for, because the NHS will continue to fall over every winter until we fix social care, risking both patient safety and staff morale."
He said along with social care, mental health and patient safety would also be on his list of priorities as Chair of the committee.
NHS Providers Chief Executive Chris Hopson said NHS Providers was keen for the committee to also look into issues related to NHS pensions and the clinical review of performance standards such as A&E waiting time targets. In addition, the organisation is calling on the committee to consider holding a “wide-ranging inquiry” on the "NHS Long Term Plan for England".
Last reviewed 4 February 2020