Matt Hancock’s week: my big speech


My first big speech is a triumph, even if I say so myself. My head of staff Lucinda certainly thought so. I could see she was genuinely moved. Laughing one minute, crying the next. I have that effect on people.

When JH started he made a big gaffe about NHS staff coasting, which didn’t exactly endear him to the rank and file, so I take a different tack. I’m heartbroken, I say, nobody understands you as I do, you’re all beautiful and I truly love you.

The editor of the HSJ tweeted that I was laying it on a bit thick, but he’s clearly a socialist so he doesn’t count. If authenticity is what people want, that’s what I’m going to give them.

Obviously I also talked a lot about IT, which is one of my special areas of expertise. I can’t believe no one in the NHS has thought of it before.

I understand why people are wary of career politicians who have never had proper jobs. But that’s not me. I’ve got plenty of real world experience thanks to my time in the family software business. I practically ran the sales department during the school holidays, for goodness’ sake!  

Going in to bat

So when I go in to bat for the NHS I make it clear that tech is one of my top priorities. In my speech I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of GPatHand. Lucinda looks doubtful when I suggest it, but the Conservatives are the party of progress, enterprise and innovation. And Ali is a great bloke, despite the funny voice and the slightly unfinished appearance.

GPatHand’s customers are younger and healthier than those who use typical GP services, which for my money is proof that it works. Lucinda says other GPs hate it because they’re stuck with all the old, sick people.

This is exactly why we need innovation. When all GP services are like GPatHand, there will be no old or sick people, I explain. For intelligent folk GPs are sometimes a bit slow on the uptake.  

Stopping the rot

My other big theme is prevention. The way I see it, if fewer people got ill the NHS would cost a lot less. Do the sums and you’ll see that I’m right. Most illness is self-inflicted. People make bad lifestyle choices, such as picking up a tin of Spam at a foodbank instead of going to a decent restaurant. It’s just lazy.

I want to see more people taking responsibility for their own health. Closing services that pander to unhealthy people would be a good start. But one thing at a time. As Lucinda says, I need to win people over to my way of thinking before I try anything too radical.

Jeremy’s legacy

JH is a great guy. He left me a good luck card, his NHS lapel badge (“I won’t be needing it anymore”) and some notes summarising everything he learnt about the job in six years. For instance, doctors and nurses respect a tough negotiator and respond well to being told what to do, particularly when it comes to pay talks. Great advice. I’ll bear it in mind.

Another top JH tip is that high quality services cost less than low quality ones. He didn’t explain how, but apparently it works in banking and the airline industry. Lucinda says it’s a good way to answer questions about the effect of funding cuts on patient safety – another thing JH cared passionately about.

JH finished by saying how sorry he was to be leaving just as all his hard work was about to pay off – but he didn’t seem bitter about me taking all the credit.

“I’m sure that after you’ve been in the job a few months, they’ll think as highly of you as they did of me,” he wrote.

What a lovely, modest guy.

Diary editor: Julian Patterson

Reproduced at by kind permission of Julian Patterson.