Health Secretary unveils plans to transform health and social care for patients

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins has expressed gratitude to healthcare and research staff for their dedication to achieving significant milestones. In a week marked by the government fulfilling 2 manifesto commitments, Atkins outlined her vision to streamline and improve the health and social care system, making it faster, simpler, and fairer for patients.


The achievements include the delivery of 50,000 additional nurses and 50 million more GP appointments, both surpassing manifesto targets. Additionally, a groundbreaking HIV opt-out testing initiative was extended to 46 areas across England. Acknowledging the efforts of NHS, social care, and research professionals, Atkins highlighted the commitment to ongoing improvements.


Atkins emphasised the need to address challenges faced by healthcare providers, including frustrations and limitations in delivering optimal care. The Secretary aims to make health and social care services faster by enhancing local treatment accessibility, improving A&E performance, and reducing waiting lists. Simplicity is targeted through integrated care and technology adoption, minimising bureaucracy and freeing up staff time for patient care. Fairness is a key focus, ensuring children are shielded from health risks, health outcomes are independent of geographical location, and support for older individuals to maintain independence is prioritised.


Despite facing a challenging winter, Atkins expressed confidence in the government’s support and the capability of healthcare staff to meet patient needs. Early winter planning has shown positive results, with a 28% reduction in ambulance handover delays and increased responsiveness to 111 calls.


The Secretary also disclosed her priorities, including ongoing winter management, and shared recent achievements, such as exceeding nurse recruitment goals and fulfilling commitments to additional general practice appointments. Efforts to end consultant strikes with a proposed contract reform were announced, along with funding for a research project evaluating the expanded HIV testing program. Pharmacy First, a part of the primary care recovery plan, was launched, offering new contraceptive services across England.


As the newly appointed Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins sets a course for transformative change, aligning government support with the dedication of healthcare professionals to enhance patient care and overall system efficiency.