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Jeremy Hunt battles it out for health select committee chair role


By Eleanor Philpotts
Reporter
16 January 2020

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Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt is campaigning to become the new chair of the House of Commons’ health and social care select committee.

Mr Hunt was the country’s longest-serving health secretary but was replaced by Matt Hancock in 2018. He is expected to see his bid for the new role voted on by fellow MPs next month.

According to The Times, he said his ‘total determination to turn the NHS into the best healthcare service in the world’ is a factor behind his decision.

He added: ‘The joy of being a select committee chair is that there is no party line to toe and you can say everything that needs to be said.’

Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston was the most recent chair of the health committee, leading the group of MPs since she was appointed in June 2015 to scrutinise the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and Social Care.

However, Dr Wollaston lost her Totnes seat to Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall in last month’s general election by a majority of 12,724.

Dr Wollaston began representing the Devon constituency as a Conservative MP in 2010, but over the course of last year switched political parties, moving to Change UK, then becoming independent and finally sitting as a Liberal Democrat MP.

Mr Hunt, who has spent fifteen years as South West Surrey’s MP, is remembered within the medical community largely for his approach to junior doctor contract negotiations, which caused well-documented disputes with organisations like the BMA.

Also a former foreign secretary, he was defeated by Boris Johnson in last year’s race to become prime minister.

Current health secretary Mr Hancock recently pledged to create 50 million more GP appointments a year by bringing 6,000 new doctors to general practice by 2024/25.

However, Mr Hunt admitted in 2018 to ‘struggling to deliver’ his pledge for 5,000 additional GPs by 2020, deeming the task ‘harder than we thought’.

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