Now Foreign Secretary, Mr Hunt let slip in Tuesday’s tetchy debate on the BBC that it was now his belief that the Government’s cuts had gone “too far”. Last weekend, he conceded the rise in delayed discharges from hospitals “wasn’t a smart move”.
Yet, while these are policy failings which The Yorkshire Post has repeatedly raised after it emerged that 1.4 million elderly people were receiving sub-standard care, Mr Hunt was Health Secretary was for six years until his promotion last summer. He can’t have it both ways. If he is so concerned now, why did he not challenge the Government’s austerity cuts when it was abdicating its responsibilities to cash-strapped town halls?
Judging by the failure of the chief protagonists to come up with serious solutions to the many policy challenges overshadowed by Brexit, there appears little appetite for the call by Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary, to prioritise investment in key public services over tax cuts for the rich advocated by the frontrunner Boris Johnson, another who has been near-silent on social care.
Yet, while the remaining candidates try to secure sufficient support from MPs, the victor will be responsible for governing the whole country – not just the Tory party – and they will be expected to develop a sustainable care policy for the longer-term so OAPs can enjoy dignity in their latter years. They can’t leave the long-overdue Green Paper on permanent hold.
As such, it is, frankly, insulting that not one candidate has had the foresight – or courtesy – to respond to the questions posed by Scarborough social care campaigner Mike Padgham over 10 days ago in this newspaper. Now Mr Hunt has admitted the Government’s failings, perhaps he – and his rivals – will now show the leadership, humanity and grasp of policy that senior citizens, and their carers, have a right to expect from their prospective premiers. It is not too late to do so.