Will take over implementation of NHS reforms and efficiency savings
Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has been appointed Health Secretary for the UK, replacing Andrew Lansley after a controversial period in the position, during which he introduced wholesale changes to the NHS in England through the Health and Social Care Act.
Former Culture Secretary Hunt is no less a divisive figure, enjoying a close relationship with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation when he was in a position to approve its takeover bid for BSkyB, and he will have a challenge on his hands to gain public support for his predecessor's much criticised healthcare reforms.
He has already come under fire from some commentators, including the Daily Telegraph's Tom Chivers who highlighted Hunt's embroilment in the ongoing Leveson enquiry into phone hacking at News Corporation's News of the World.
This led to the resignation of Hunt's adviser Adam Smith after emails were published that showed News Corporation's public affairs director, Frédéric Michel, had been given inside information concerning Hunt's thoughts on the BSkyB bid.
Chivers also pointed out Hunt's previous support for NHS use of homeopathy, an alternative medicine consisting of highly diluted substances that has been condemned by many in the medical community for the lack of evidence to support claims it is an effective form of treatment.
The view was more positive from healthcare organisations, however, with the British Medical Association (BMA) welcoming a “fresh opportunity” following the departure of Lansley, who provoked much disapproval from the body during his time in power as it battled his reforms.
The BMA's deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand, told GP: 'I would welcome [Lansley's] ejection if it comes with a change of policy. He epitomised everything that has gone wrong in the last two years in the NHS. A person like me is not against the personality but against the policies.
"The whole drive towards marketisation of the NHS has got to stop.”
Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), also commented on Hunt's appointment, acknowledging the period of transition for healthcare in the UK.
He said: “The NHS is highly regarded both here in the UK and around the world and Jeremy Hunt will face a number of challenges in not only safeguarding its short term success, but its long term future.
“An on-going challenge will be to ensure that the NHS performs better at getting the latest medicines to patients, because as it stands, people still are not able to access many of the most innovative treatments which are available on the continent.”