Jeremy Hunt has been re-elected as health secretary following Thursday’s general election.
Announced on Sunday, the MP for Surrey South West has kept his position in a cabinet reshuffle that was triggered by the snap election called by current prime minister, Theresa May.
The shock results of the general election saw May lose her parliamentary majority, and enter talks with the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to attempt to maintain a Conservative minority government.
Hunt has been in the post since 2012. He has been a high profile figure in the media for his role in changing the junior doctors contract which focused on weekend working – a controversial move which damaged his reputation among medical staff.
Hunt has also had a significant impact on NHS IT. He was a vocal supporter of the transparency and patient information agendas put forward by NHS England’s former national director of patients and information, Tim Kelsey; although this associated him with the ultimately disastrous care.data project which got cancelled last year.
Hunt also invited US ‘digital doctor’ Robert Wachter to the UK to review NHS IT. The subsequent ‘Wachter Report’ has been critical to the creation of NHS England’s flagship programme, the global digital exemplars.
And he has been a more surprising advocate of IT for NHS provider organisations; given that most politicians have run a mile from the electronic patient record agenda since the debacle of the National Programme for IT.
In 2013, he told the Policy Exchange think-tank that he wanted to see a ‘paperless’ NHS by 2018. And while this target has been refined and extended to 2020, it undoubtedly electrified the market.
It also came with some money. NHS England ran two rounds of ‘tech fund’ bidding for electronic patient record, e-prescribing, electronic document management and similar projects.
Emphasising the importance of this money, it was the curtailing of ‘tech fund 2’ in the face of ‘winter pressures’ in 2014 that has been blamed for a slow-down in these areas.
Despite Hunt retaining his position, several health ministers lost their seats on Thursday – their replacements have not yet been announced.
Nicola Blackwood, parliamentary under-secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation, lost her Oxford West and Abingdon seat to Liberal Democrat Layla Moran by 816 votes.
David Mowat, pharmacy minister, was knocked out of his Warrington South seat by Labour’s Faisal Rashid, who won with a majority of 2,549.
May is meeting the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs on Monday, the BBC reports, and will face questions on her leadership and policies.
On Sunday, leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, accused May of “squatting” in No.10.