Opportunities for new Health & Social Care Secretary

Affirmative action needed from Mr Javid

2nd July 2021 about a 4 minute read
"Whether or not Mr Javid is as excited as Mr Hancock appeared to be around tech and its possibilities, he must grasp the opportunity to continue the momentum and drive progress exponentially in this area." Greg Allen

Much has been written about the recent resignation of Matt Hancock as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, as well as the challenges inherited by his successor, Sajid Javid.

We are not yet completely out of the woods with this pandemic.  We have a huge backlog in the NHS and potential further escalation of unease – dispute even – on pay.  Social care is under immense strain and needs to see affirmative action from Mr Javid.  The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) has seen 50 or so of its members, including Future Care Capital, sign up to its #KeepYourPromiseBoris campaign – exerting direct pressure on the Prime Minister to stay true to his word and ‘fix social care’.

So how can Mr Javid make an early mark – when some still associate him negatively with government austerity and cuts?  What will he do that will make a real impact on the delivery of a fit for purpose future health and care system?

Well, one good starting place would be to build on a positive aspect of Matt Hancock’s tenure.  The previous Health and Social Care Secretary made no secret of his interest and ambition around the use of technology in the future design and provision of care.  Yes, there have been plenty of critics of the way test and trace has evolved during the pandemic, including me.  But Mr Hancock did set a context which should and must outlive his time in office.  This was the underpinning need to accelerate the drive to design, test, develop, augment and implement existing and new technology to improve the access to high quality care in order to help people live more independently.  This is notably a key need in social care and in home care settings.

Whether or not Mr Javid is as excited as Mr Hancock appeared to be around tech and its possibilities, he must grasp the opportunity to continue the momentum and drive progress exponentially in this area.

How can he do that?  Well, his vocal support for business places him well to clear the path for the creation of new opportunities.  He can get wholeheartedly behind entrepreneurs early on, for example – as well as others – breaking down as many barriers as possible for solutions developers and providers to bring their tech to market successfully and enable better more accessible care.  As we exit the pandemic, the need for a seamless route for them (whilst improving the checks and balances around ethical issues) is both an opportunity and a challenge.  But Mr Javid’s leadership is important, in this respect.

We await news from the Prime Minister on exactly how and to what extent the country will be ‘unlocked’ after 19th July.  But whatever the context after that date, digital, tech and health and care leaders need to see continued commitment to drive forward tech innovation.  Mr Javid is well placed to reinforce this commitment and demonstrate the value of such an approach.

Government ministers come and go but the tide of appetite and demand from the public for fit for purpose future care is unlikely to disappear now or ever.  Bridging the expectations of the public with action from policymakers, entrepreneurs and care providers is no easy thing.  But Mr Javid would be well advised to reflect on the human stories that we hear day to day, to help him steer a steady course in his new role.

At Future Care Capital, we have just published an anthology of 12 thought-provoking fiction stories, written by a selection of renowned authors, covering a number of interesting, sensitive and controversial health and care topics.  I would recommend Mr Javid takes an hour or so this weekend, if he is so minded, to scan through this small book and perhaps read one or two of the specific tech-related stories.  This Fictions ‘thought-experiment’ and associated online webinar were designed to help health and social care policy makers consider “what if…?” scenarios for the provision of future services.

If Mr Javid needs any inspiration about the possibilities, this might be a great place to start!