Sajid Javid’s top priority is pandemic as new Health Secretary urged to act over care crisis

SAJID JAVID says his “most immediate priority” will be getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic as he begins work as Health and Social Secretary.

This was Sajid Javid leaving home to take up work as Health and Social Care Secretary in succession to the now disgraced Matt Hancock.

He also described his new role as a “huge responsibility” after returning to the Cabinet just 16 months after resigning as Chancellor in a stand-off with Boris Johnson over the role of aides.

One of Mr Javid’s first decisions will be confirmation that the easing of Covid restrictions will not be brought forward from July 21 to next Monday.

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This issue made his predecessor Matt Hancock’s position untenable after the leaking of CCTV video footage showed the married and now disgraced father-of-three breaking social distancing rules by embracing his confidante Gina Coladangelo in his ministerial office.

This was a humiliated Matt Hancock issuing a resignation statement on Saturday night.

No incoming Health Secretary has faced such an invidious in-tray since the advent of the NHS, but Mr Javid was calm as he arrived at his new office to meet officials and, crucially, acknowledged the role of social care staff.

“I’m incredibly honoured to take up the post of Health and Social Care Secretary, particularly during such an important moment in our recovery from Covid-19,” he said.

“This position comes with a huge responsibility and I will do everything I can to deliver for the people of this great country.

“Thanks to the fantastic efforts of our NHS and social care staff who work tirelessly every day, and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we have made enormous progress in the battle against this dreadful disease. I want our country to get out of this pandemic and that will be my most immediate priority.”

File photo dated 16/05/21 of Health Secretary Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo - both resigned on a dramatic weekend at Westminster.

However Mr Javid was immediately served notice by Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Secretary, that he had just months to devise a long-term funding plan for social care – an issue ignored by successive governments and ministers.

“Six months, because the Government have said they will do it by the end of this year, and I know Sajid will want to honour that promise,” said Mr Hunt who also warned that care home deaths in the pandemic would come to represent “some of the worst failures of the state in our lifetime”.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association’s council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said Mr Javid would need to be “honest” with the public over tackling a backlog of care and negotiate the resources that the NHS needs.

He said that there were now “a record five plus million patients on waiting lists” which “doesn’t include about 20 million patients who were not seen in outpatient clinics last year”.

Mr Javid was appointed on Saturday night shortly after a humiliated Mr Hancock quit as support amongst Tory MPs evaporated in spite of the Prime Minister’s insistence that the now former Minister’s hypocrisy and impropriety was a closed matter.

Sheffield surgery threatened by shortage of GPs

THE NHS staffing crisis is so acute that a GP surgery in the centre of Sheffield stands empty, one of the city’s MPs claims today.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh hopes Sajid Javid, the new Health Secretary, will act to save the Norfolk Park surger as a growing shortage of doctors and nurses hits care in the region.

Writing in The Yorkshire Post, she says the facility “sits empty partly because we cannot recruit the necessary GPs to staff it”.

“And we are at risk of losing the practice entirely because it is so under-staffed, in an area that can ill-afford to lose precious services,” she adds. “To cut NHS services in communities as we come out of a pandemic is sheer lunacy.”

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