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New year same problems? Why Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the NHS face decisive start to 2019

Health Secretary Matt Hancock's New Year fortunes could go either way in a decisive month for the NHS. Credit: PA

It may feel like Brexit has paralysed every other government department but there is one that’s about to embark on the busiest time of the year.

The start of 2019 is likely to be a mixed bag of fortunes for the Health and Social Care department.

The first priority is for the prime minister to set out the much-talked-about NHS 10 year plan.

This is the plan that was announced back in the summer and came with a promise to give the health service an extra £20 billion over five years.

Hospital bosses have told ITV News they desperately need more funding. Credit: ITV News

We’ll get the detail on how that money will be spent and how the NHS will be run during the next decade.

I say a mixed bag because, of course, the NHS has also just entered the busiest time of year.

Waiting times and performance figures are published weekly during these months and everyone will be watching to see how well, or indeed how badly, A&Es performed over the Christmas and New Year period.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock could not guarantee to ITV News another winter crisis will be avoided. Credit: ITV News

The health secretary will be hoping the extra money to cope with winter, along with preparations, have been enough to stave off a crisis and weeks of bad headlines.

The long-awaited social care green paper will also be published.

I understand that will come after the 10 year plan so January could be a busy month.

Having a comprehensive, effective plan to sort out the huge problems in social care is crucial to also having an NHS that runs smoothly.

They go hand in hand; the government knows this and needs to get on the front foot with both early in the new year.