Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP appeared before the Commons Health Committee yesterday to address a number of issues, ranging from mental health funding to dental services.
Members of the Health Committee referred to recent comments by national medical director of NHS England, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who recently stressed the need to ‘be clear’ about when recommendations to implement new solutions in the form of new devices or technology “should override the financial considerations”. While Mr Hunt did not provide detail, when asked about whether a more streamlined approach could be applied to introducing new technology or medical devices nationally, the Secretary of State said it was something he was focused on.
The Secretary of State was also questioned on the issue of staff pay rises and his previous comments that linked any potential staff pay rise to improvements in productivity, rather than funding them through additional budgeting. He stressed that he had discussed this issue with the Chancellor, stating ‘the Chancellor will consider extra money if I’m able to secure productivity improvements’.
Meanwhile, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, made his views on pay for NHS staff clear by calling the link between NHS pay rises and increased productivity an ‘own goal of the first magnitude’ in a speech at a Managers in Partnership conference also on Tuesday. This echoes statements Stevens made to the Health Committee earlier in October in which he said that pay rises for the NHS should be properly funded rather than offset by other parts of what the health service is doing. Mr Stevens’ sentiments were supported by Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, who agreed that it would be counterproductive for the chancellor to try and fund a pay rise from the existing NHS budget.