'I’m not sure the NHS would want me back', says former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt began by explaining why he called the NHS a 'rogue system' in his new book.

By Rhiannon Hopley, ITV News Producer

Jeremy Hunt is the longest serving Health Secretary the UK has ever had but four years after moving on from the post, he admits he made mistakes and could have done more during his tenure.

The MP has written a new book – “Zero: Eliminating Unnecessary Deaths in a Post-pandemic NHS” in which he suggests ways he believes the NHS can reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero, and in the process save money and reduce backlogs.

“There’s about 150 preventable deaths every week in the NHS in England. If that was the airline industry, that would be an aeroplane falling out of the sky every single week,” Mr Hunt told ITV News.

"We would change things pretty quickly if that was happening. In healthcare we’ve come to accept it – and I don’t think we should.”

But as the man who was at the helm for nearly six years, he concedes he could have achieved more during his time as Health Secretary.

“By the end of my time we had 3 million more patients using good or outstanding hospitals, a big rise in the NHS budget and many more doctors and nurses. But there were some failures. I didn’t fix the social care system. I wanted to have a ten year plan for it just as I secured for the NHS. That didn’t happen.”

Perhaps one of the most notable events during his time as Health Secretary was when Hunt introduced a controversial new contract for junior doctors – a move which resulted in widespread strikes in 2016.

He admits he wishes he had handled that situation differently saying there were things he “could have done better.”

Junior doctors and supporters of the BMA strikes wear stickers over their mouths as they sit down in a silent protest in 2016

Writing his book has given Hunt the chance to reflect on his leadership of the NHS. When asked if he would ever consider returning to his former post, Mr Hunt said: “I think after reading the book and seeing all the mistakes I made, I’m not sure the NHS would want me back.”

Instead, the MP for South West Surrey is full of praise for the current Health Secretary Sajid Javid who he says is “totally committed” to tackling the “deep-seated” issues facing our healthcare service.

And does the former Health Secretary have any advice for his successor?

“I hope when he reads my book – which he kindly said he will – he will not make some of the mistakes I made or at least know some of the things I wish I’d known right at the start of my six years.”

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