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Tuesday, 09 January 2018

Move to bring social care into health portfolio welcomed as Hunt's role expanded

Written by Ella Pickover

Leading doctors have welcomed Downing Street's decision to merge health and social care into one political portfolio.

The Royal College of GPs said the state of social care "profoundly" impacts the NHS.

Downing Street announced that Jeremy Hunt's job title has changed from Health Secretary to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

His department has become the Department for Health and Social Care.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the department would take the lead on the Government's forthcoming green paper on care and support for older people.

She added that costs associated with changing the department's name will be kept to a minimum.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "This is a critical role at a critical time for general practice and the wider NHS, and we will continue to work constructively with Jeremy Hunt (pictured) in his expanded role as Secretary of State for both health and social care in England.

"We support the bringing together of health and social care into the portfolio of one minister as we recognise that what happens to patients in the NHS is profoundly impacted by the state of social care."

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: "The addition of 'social care' to the Secretary of State for Health's title is a welcome and long overdue recognition of the interdependence of health and social care provision and the importance of social care in our society."

Glen Garrod, vice president of the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), said: "This is a welcome recognition of the importance of social care.

"Adass has long called for a more coherent approach towards health and social care, and ensuring that the responsible Government department does this is an essential first step."

The reappointment comes a week after Mr Hunt apologised to patients whose appointments and operations had been delayed as a result of winter pressures in the NHS in England.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, urged him to engage more with frontline staff about the issues facing the NHS.

"We want to see much better engagement with clinicians and we would be happy to meet with Mr Hunt at any time to discuss the key issues," he said.

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