If you haven’t been following British politics for the last month, my advice would be not to start now. The chaos unleashed by the EU referendum has thrown up too many new plotlines and characters for you to follow. But amid all the chaos two men are as they were. One is Jeremy Corbyn who, having alienated his MPs but still comforted by placard-waving supporters, squats in his office, like Herman Melville’s Bartleby serenaded by the One Direction fan club. And the other? Jeremy Hunt, who is now on course to be the longest serving health secretary, to the delight of no junior doctor anywhere.
Meanwhile back in the real world, there was a worrying report about social care which faces a £1 billion shortfall this year, leaving the elderly and most vulnerable exposed. We can argue about how meaningful ‘increased’ government funding has been for the NHS, but social care gets by on a tenth of its budget, after taking a pounding this decade. It has lost £5 billion worth of funds while the population gets older.
If Jeremy Hunt V2.0 was looking to reinvent himself from being the scourge of the medics, he could do worse than to take this on, and start the difficult but increasingly necessary job of bringing health and social care together. There are blueprints he can filch: from the work championed by the King’s Fund, and even from Andy Burnham’s Time To Care paper from the last election. If his leaders can lift policies from Ed Miliband, then surely he can from his old nemesis.
So how about it Jeremy? Maybe there is an unexpected second act you can play in Richmond House.
Mike Shallcross, acting editor, Independent Nurse