Following his reappointment as health secretary, Jeremy Hunt has hit back at junior doctors who prematurely rejoiced regarding rumours that he had been sacked from his ministerial position.
Hunt indicated that he is thrilled to be back at the helm of health policy in the Conservative government, even if many healthcare professionals will not exactly share this feeling.
Poking fun at his enemies – one of whom tweeted 120 smiley faces at speculation he had been moved from the Department of Health – Mr Hunt tweeted: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Hunt stated that he considered the position of health minister to be the best job in government, following the reappointment to the position by incoming Prime Minister Theresa May.
There had been signs that Hunt was expecting to be relieved from his position, after the health minister was discovered entering Downing Street without his usual NHS badge attached to his lapel.
The appointment of Hunt will be particularly strongly felt by junior doctors, with many having commented on a social media that his removal from the position was a big positive in their ongoing dispute.
While Hunt has threatened to impose a contract on such healthcare professionals, the reality is that this will be extremely difficult in the existing political climate.
It will be interesting to see how the issue develops, as the political capital of Hunt has undoubtedly been diminished by the uncertainty over his reappointment.
Meanwhile, it is doubtful that the NHS can cope with any further medic resignations, which could occur if the junior doctor contract is ultimately enforced.
Nurses have also been prominent on social media responding negatively to the decision regarding Hunt, with one nurse notably accusing the health minister of killing the NHS.
Meanwhile, an NHS patient reported a hospital ward had erupted in cheers at rumours Mr Hunt had been sacked.
With junior doctors and medical students having rejected the deal brokered between the British Medical Association and the government just weeks ago, there is now a significant schism in the British health care system, and one that Hunt must address immediately.
Responding to confirmation of Mr Hunt’s reappointment as Health Secretary, the BMA released a conciliatory statement pledging to resolve disagreements.
“We remain committed to continuing our work with Mr Hunt on the development of health policies to assure the quality of patient care. There are extremely difficult decisions ahead and doctors need to play a central role in shaping the delivery of healthcare. More than ever we need a period of stability and a working environment that encourages partnership and co-operation.”
The British Medical Association also indicated its determination to work with and in order to resolve the junior doctor dispute.
“We also still need to agree a contract for junior doctors in which they have confidence and I urge Mr Hunt to build on the progress that has been made so far to address outstanding issues and regain trust from junior doctors, who are the future of the profession. We need a long term strategy that addresses the workload and funding challenges that are overwhelming the NHS. Doctors want to see the secretary of state put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future, address the serious funding shortfall and ensure we can recruit and retain the right number of doctors that our patients desperately need.”