'He has a huge task ahead': Health leaders react to Sajid Javid appointment

26 June 2021, 22:40 | Updated: 26 June 2021, 22:42

Health leaders have said the new health secretary Sajid Javid must "hit the ground running"
Health leaders have said the new health secretary Sajid Javid must "hit the ground running". Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

Health leaders have reacted to the appointment of Sajid Javid as health secretary after Matt Hancock tendered his resignation on Saturday.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of council at the British Medical Association (BMA), said Mr Javid had "a huge and urgent task ahead", with tackling the pandemic needing to be balanced with other problems facing the healthcare system.

"He must ensure completing the rollout of the adult vaccination programme at rapid pace to control spiralling infection rates," said Dr Nagpaul.

"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.

"Frontline doctors and other staff have gone above and beyond time and time again over the course of the last 18 months, with many suffering from burnout and mental ill health as a result.

"The new Secretary of State must show he understands this challenge and must also be willing to listen to the voice of the frontline on the Government's plans for sweeping changes in the running of the NHS in the upcoming Health and Care Bill."

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers - which represents NHS trusts - also said that Mr Javid would have to juggle the "immediate challenge" of steering the NHS through the Covid-19 pandemic, while supporting the health sector to "clear the substantial backlog of care".

"More than five million patients are now waiting for treatment, demand for mental health and emergency services is rising fast and we face a potentially difficult winter on the horizon... this is all alongside making plans to live with Covid-19 over the longer-term," she said.

She added that the new health secretary must tackle staff burnout, boost morale and ensure that the large number of vacancies in the health service are filled to ensure a "sustainable pipeline of staff".

Ms Cordery also highlighted that there is "important legislation waiting in the wings, heralding the biggest reforms to the health service in over a decade" and said Mr Javid should ensure the health service's needs are represented ahead of the upcoming comprehensive spending review.

Pat Cullen, acting general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Sajid Javid must hit the ground running.

"With the unrelenting pressure on the nursing workforce, their role in protecting the nation during the pandemic and role delivering the vaccination programme, we expect to meet with urgency.

"Javid's immediate priority must be tackling the shortage of nursing staff and paying them fairly for their highly-skilled and safety-critical work."