Responding to the appointment of the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt as new Chancellor of the Exchequer alongside former health minister Ed Argar who takes up the role of Treasury chief secretary, NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said:
“We congratulate both the RT Hon Jeremy Hunt and the Rt Hon Ed Argar on their new appointments to Chancellor and Treasury Chief Secretary respectively.
“The new Chancellor has been one of the most vocal politicians on the need for a new workforce plan for the NHS, recently admitting that the health service faces the ‘greatest workforce crisis’ in its history and shouldering partial responsibility for creating such a crisis as a former health secretary. He also understands well the gravity of the situation in the NHS as it approaches a perilous winter.
“Carrying 132,000 vacancies and with an exhausted workforce grappling the huge weight of patient need, this is Mr Hunt’s moment of truth.
“In recent months he has frequently called on the government to bring forward a now desperately needed, fully funded plan for an NHS workforce fit for the twenty first century, so all eyes will now be on him to now deliver this, something he will know well.
“With 7 million people waiting for treatment, the new Chancellor is also in a unique position to provide some immediate and urgent support to the NHS as it attempts to contend with a real terms funding cut that could stretch to over £9bn this year alone as inflation rates take their toll on budgets.
“Health care leaders would urge both Mr Hunt and Mr Argar to be cognisant of the immense challenges also facing the social care sector, which is itself carrying 165,000 vacancies.
“The government must now recognise that no one part of the system in either the NHS or in social care can function independently of the other, when one part is in peril this creates a negative and detrimental domino effect for patients.
“Put simply – to ensure economic growth and prosperity the government must now act for the long term and invest in the health service as the country’s economic backbone and fully recognise that it is a key driver to economic stability. The time to act is now.”