On day two of Confed18, health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt gave assurances of a joined-up funding plan for health and social care and announced that doctors and nurses will be exempt from the Tier 2 visa cap.
In the final keynote of the conference, he gave thanks and congratulations to the NHS leaders in the room and their teams for their “extraordinary contribution” to the country as a whole.
Headlines vs. trendlines
Highlighting the media reports on cancer targets, heart disease, mental health provision and A&E waiting times, he spoke of the importance of looking at trendlines, rather than headlines. While the headlines might say that the NHS is missing cancer targets, that ambulances aren’t meeting the eight-minute target for heart attacks, and that it takes too long to access mental health services, the trendlines show record survival rates for cancer and heart disease, the biggest expansion in Europe for anxiety and depression services, and 3,200 more people being treated each day in A&E within the four-hour standard.
Reflecting on his record tenure of almost six years as health secretary, he shared the things he’d learned, and the things he wished he’d learned, along the way.
First was the critical importance of workforce planning, second was the interrelationship between health and social care, and third was the role of culture in driving change.
Hopes for the future
After announcing the agreement to remove doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap, and admitting that he couldn’t share the content of his discussions with the Prime Minister, he shared his hopes for the future of health and care.
These included a stable, long-term funding environment that focuses on productivity, efficiency and reducing waste, in which hospital IT systems are transformed and do more to unleash time for staff.
Reiterating intentions to focus on care pathways towards prevention rather than cure, and involving the public in the plans, he highlighted the need to think about other opportunities to “get it right.”
He set out his intention to develop a small number of bold ambitions on how health and care can be transformed, which have standards that everyone recognises and appreciates.
“Seventy years ago we were saying something about our values as a nation – in this country, everyone matters,” he said. “As we restate our vows we’re saying the same thing. If we turned heads 70 years ago we can do it again today. Let’s be bold and deliver that promise.”
Read a transcript of the full speech
All the main stage sessions will be available on our watch again web page