by Joe Lepper
Incoming health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has been urged by nurses' leaders to avoid making the 'mistakes' of his predecessor Andrew Lansley and ensure he listens to nurses' views.
Unite's head of health Rachael Maskell has described Lansley's time as health secretary as 'disastrous,' in particular the 'bungled' Health and Social Care Reform Act, which had to be halted midway through its progress through parliament amid criticism of a lack of consultation with health professionals.
She said: 'Andrew Lansley must rank as one of the worst health secretaries since the NHS was formed in 1948. NHS staff have had their morale crushed by Lansley's unlistening and steamroller mindset.
'Jeremy Hunt must reflect deep and hard on the errors of his predecessor and seek immediate dialogue with the NHS team and their unions.'
She also warned Mr Hunt not to underestimate the strength of feeling among health professionals and the public against the role of private firms in the NHS.
Unison head of health Christina McAnea added: 'Jeremy Hunt has an opportunity to listen to patients, professionals and unions about the damage the Health and Social Care Act will continue to do to the NHS, let's hope he doesn't waste it.'
RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said he looked forward to working with the Mr Hunt to 'ensure the nursing voice is heard.'
Improving 'the quality of general practice' should top the health secretary's list according to Chris Ham, chief executive of independent health charity the King's Fund,
'There are widespread variations in the quality of care and in some parts of the NHS general practice still resembles a cottage industry,' he said. 'This needs to change, with practices working in federations to make a wider range of services available to patients in high quality premises.'
In addition to Andrew Lansley's exit from the DH, this month's cabinet reshuffle saw care services minister Paul Burstow replaced by fellow Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb.MrBurstow spearheaded the coalition government's mental health strategy. Former nurse Anne Milton is replaced as parliamentary under-secretary of state for health by ex-journalist Anna Soubry.