Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock highlights significant achievements

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has illustrated the significant achievements and key lessons to be learnt within our healthcare system as we move into the future, as part of a speech at the Royal College of Physicians.

Opening his speech with a powerful statement - “coronavirus has tested every single part of our infrastructure, giving us a new appreciation for what works and what doesn’t" - Mr Hancock presented the lessons to be learnt from the Covid-19 virus. These included:

  • How the healthcare service performed under conditions of severe, sustained nationwide pressure
  • The decisions frontline professionals make if you give them greater freedom
  • Which rules and structures are vital to the effective delivery of our health and social care
  • And what are just a layer of bureaucratic barnacles that can be stripped away to streamline the vessel beneath

Though, for all the lessons learnt, the Health Secretary also took the time to shine a light on some of the achievements made by health and care professionals during the pandemic, such as the rapid construction and opening of the NHS Nightingale hospitals, the successful doubling of ICU capacity around the country to treat those most sick from the virus and the treating of half of patients in outpatients and primary care remotely.

Deep structural shifts in healthcare practice and approaches are already underway as a result of the virus, with the emergence of key new avenues of technology and thought such as telemedicine, data-driven decision-making and more widespread collaborative working.

Mr Hancock also outlined his desires, post-coronavirus, to kickstart a conversation around how we best allow our carers to care, focusing in one a range of key cultural lessons brought to the forefront during the past few months including better valuing staff, reducing time-consuming and unnecessary steps in healthcare's bureaucratic processes, better integrated cutting edge technology and acknowledging the nation's health is larger and more wide-reaching than just the NHS.

His speech concluded with a simple call to action for the health sector: "I hope that you will join me in this mission.

"At a time when the world around us is changing faster than ever before in human history. We mustn’t simply keep pace with the change, but once more show the world what can be done.

“We need a healthcare service that’s built on collaboration not competition. On trust in professionals and not box-ticking bureaucracy and protects the most vulnerable and helps people live longer, healthier lives. And just as modern London rose from the ashes of the great fire. We protected the NHS in the peak of this epidemic. And out of its ravages. Let us build a health and social care system of the future.”

Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

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NHE May/June 2024

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