Mr Hunt served notice that Matt Hancock’s successor has just six months to come up with reforms of social care and that the past treatment of the elderly in the pandemic will come to represent “some of the worst failures of the state in our lifetime”.
Yet the fact that Mr Javid’s appointment has been welcomed by Mr Hunt, and also opponents like Alan Johnson, a former Health Secretary in the last Labour government, is noteworthy.
The first former Chancellor to return to the Cabinet since Ken Clarke, this is now Mr Javid’s sixth Cabinet post and he has the experience, and gravitas, so lacking under the disgraced, and thankfully departed, Mr Hancock.
It is also important that undue importance is not attached to the vitriolic running commentary being provided by Mr Javid’s one-time nemesis Dominic Cummings – the latter, another lockdown rule breaker, is also no longer part of the Government.
And while never before has an incoming minister had such an invidious in-tray, from the Covid crisis to NHS staff shortages and record waiting times, this newspaper, like the rest of the country, wishes Mr Javid well and urges him to give equal attention to both aspects of his brief – health and social care.
He will be all too aware of the many challenges facing the care sector from his time as Communities Secretary and then at the Treasury during his brief spell as Chancellor.
But he should appreciate that any NHS reforms, however innovative, will be counter-productive unless they’re implemented in tandem with social care – a long-neglected area of policy which, in our view, remains the defining test of this Government’s compassion, credibility and courage.