NHS care needs to be 'best in the world', says Hunt
Published on 10 October 2012 11:30 AM
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Party conference that NHS employees should aim to be the 'best in the world' at caring for older people.
Mr Hunt's words mark his first high profile speech following his appointment to the position in the cabinet reshuffle last month, and he reiterated his desire to modify the culture of the NHS.
Mr Hunt said that the NHS needed to be 'honest about failure', but also described doctors and nurses as 'unsung heroes', pointing out that his father was an NHS manager and his mother worked as a midwife and nurse in A&E.
The speech came after the recent Health and Social Care Act bill was passed, as part of which GPs were given more say on care budgets through clinical commissioning groups while strategic health authorities and primary care trusts were scrapped.
Mr Hunt was also complimentary about his predecessor Andrew Lansley in his speech. He said: 'If Andrew is the health secretary who helped give us the structures for a modern NHS, I want to be the health secretary who helped transform the culture of the system - to make it the best in the world at looking after older people.'
He added: 'Since it was set up in 1948 the NHS has come to symbolise a deeply held belief about what it means to be British: a country fit for heroes where everyone should have a roof over their heads, a school for their children and proper treatment for their family when they're sick.
Tackling the care crisis would be 'brave and courageous'
Charity Director General at Age UK, Michelle Mitchell welcomed the commitment from the Secretary of State to creating an NHS and social care system fit for an ageing population, but stressed the urgency of sorting out the crisis in care.
Mitchell commented: 'For years the social care system has been systematically starved of funds, with investment failing to keep pace with the growing needs of an ageing population. At the same time the complicated and unfair rules for people who find themselves having to foot the bill for their own care have been left untouched.
'There is a real need to know for all those working in and cared for by the system when the Government plan to put the Dilnot reforms into action. If the Government puts a £35,000 cap on lifetime care costs this would change the lives of older people, relieving them and their families from the fear of spiralling care costs.
Mitchell added: 'It would be a brave and courageous step, and one that would leave a compassionate legacy that could help transform our social care system.'
Copyright Press Association 2012