ONE could argue that had it not been for former health sectary Matt Hancock’s ‘indiscretion’ (with aide Gina Coladangelo) in front of Home Office security cameras, Sajid Javid might have still remained on the backbenches.
His elevation to health secretary in June 2021 came off the back of Hancock’s resignation.
Initially, prime minister Boris Johnson’s instincts had been to protect Hancock, but once pictures were published of the MP getting just a bit intimate from someone outside his household – and thereby breaking Covid regulations – there seemed little point to holding onto him.
Assessments of Hancock’s role in navigating the pandemic remain very mixed and hardly anyone (bar the government’s most ardent supporters) would claim the crisis was well-handled, especially at the start.
So, Javid is back in the cabinet and at the top table. He has proved himself again as one of the government’s best communicators and a real asset as we make our way out of the most challenging of times on the health front.
From here on things won’t get any easier – the scale of the challenges are enormous.
Some six million people are waiting for routine or at least non-urgent treatment. This represents the largest number of people waiting – since these types of records were compiled (going back to 2007).
In one month alone for January 2022, the figure jumped to 72,000. In February 2022, he announced the government’s plan to deal with the backlog, conceding the list would go up before it went down – estimating that should happen around March 2024.
He told the House of Commons there would be £2 billion in extra funding and another £8bn over the next three years – some £6bn would also be spent on capital investment with an emphasis on new technology and creating