Stephen Barclay and I worked together when I led Cambridgeshire County Council. He is the MP for North East Cambridgeshire. Since then I have watched his career with interest. He is undoubtably a sincere, intelligent politician and someone who I can trust.
A couple of weeks ago Stephen and I made a loose arrangement to meet up for a coffee. Yesterday I texted Stephen to congratulate him on becoming the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Remarkably, given how busy he must be, he replied and has asked for me to meet with him next Wednesday in Parliament.
This will give me a great opportunity to lobby for improvements in Health and in particular the provision of GP services. I used to be responsible for social care in Cambridgeshire and have a fair understanding of the difficulties and challenges the sector faces. They are huge.
I believe that whilst health and social care have been brought together under one Secretary of State true integration can only be achieved when they are both accountable to local populations. It is essential that the system as a whole works for the people not just the organisations. Providing good quality adult social care frees up hospital beds which in turn allows more operations to take place.
Stephen has a huge challenge ahead of him. What is interesting is that with only a couple of exceptions Health Secretaries don’t seem to last very long. Given the complexities involved I suggest Stephen ought to remain in post for some considerable time to make the necessary impact.