Commenting on the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King's Fund said:
'The re-appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health will bring some welcome continuity as the NHS enters one of the most challenging periods in its history. It is also an opportunity to continue the work on safety and quality of care he started in the wake of the Francis report.
'His first priority must be to plug the growing black hole in NHS finances by securing additional funding for the current financial year. This should go hand in hand with a renewed drive to improve productivity to ensure the NHS is playing its part in responding to the pressures it is facing.
'Looking beyond this, the government must use the Spending Review later this year to put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing for the rest of the parliament. The additional £8 billion a year by 2020 pledged in the Conservative manifesto is welcome but is the bare minimum needed to maintain standards of care and will not pay for new initiatives such as seven-day working. More money will also be needed for social care.
'In the long term, as the Barker Commission recommended, a new settlement is needed for health and social care which ends the historic divide between the two systems. For a party seeking to govern as one nation, securing the future of the NHS – the most tangible expression of this aspiration – must be a key priority.'
Notes to editors:
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.