Sajid Javid pledges to reform NHS next year It must now deliver for taxpayers

Forecourt owner prioritising NHS and blue light workers

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The Health Secretary’s comments to the Tory conference follow the Government’s decision to raise taxes to spend up to £12billion on tackling the backlog in surgery and other treatment. He also insisted patients must have the right to see their GP in person if they want. His remarks in Manchester come after criticism of the switch to online or telephone consultations at many surgeries and health centres.

Mr Javid said: “The NHS may have the best principle behind it, staffed by some of the best people our country has to offer, but that doesn’t mean that, as an organisation, it is the best at everything.

“It wouldn’t help anyone to pretend otherwise. Our undeniable commitment to the NHS is what should drive us to make it as effective as it can be because ultimately it is our national health service and is only as good as the service it provides our citizens.”

He added: “The public rightly and proudly expect a service that is free at the point of use but they also expect that service to deliver for them, wherever they live in the country.

“They expect to be able to see their GP, in the way that they choose. And to have a relationship with their service that goes beyond picking up the pieces when things go wrong.”

In a swipe at Labour, Mr Javid said past governments had chosen cash or reform in their approach to the NHS. He blasted: “That’s a false choice – you can’t have one without the other.”

He said leadership and innovation are key to improving hospitals, saying: “I want the NHS to embrace innovation and to build a truly modern, digitised system. That’s the only way we can drive down that backlog, and build a sustainable service for the future.”

He told conference how he recruited retired Royal Marine general Sir Gordon Messenger, below, to review leadership and management in health and social care.

He said: “This will be the most far-reaching review since Roy Griffiths’ report to Margaret Thatcher in 1983. It will shine a light on outstanding leaders who drive efficiency and innovation, and see how we can replicate that throughout the country. No reform is easy, otherwise it would’ve been done already. But if we get it right, no – when we get it right – we won’t build back the way things were.

“We’ll build a future where our health and social care systems are integrated more seamlessly together.”

Mr Javid said health and social care “begins at home” and people should not always turn to the State first. He added: “The State was needed in this pandemic more than any time in peacetime. But government shouldn’t own all risks and responsibilities in life. We have to take some responsibility for our health too. Health – and social care – begins at home. Family first, then community, then the State.”

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