Editorial: Time for the new health secretary to listen to GPs

'It's a huge task and the biggest privilege of my life.'

These were the words of Jeremy Hunt in a BBC interview, shortly after he was unveiled as successor to Andrew Lansley in the first major restructure since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government came to power in 2010.

Few GP tears are likely to be shed at the departure of Mr Lansley, whose Health and Social Care Act became law earlier this year.

Mr Hunt's promotion is curious because health is not a subject in which his expertise is renowned and he has also been under recent pressure for his handling of the BSkyB takeover bid.

There have also been changes at the top of the BMA. GPonline last week revealed that retired GP Dr Kailash Chand, an outspoken critic of Mr Lansley's vision, had been elected deputy chairman. Dr Chand was uncompromising about Mr Lansley's two-year reign as health secretary, describing him as doing an 'utterly miserable job'.

Away from the corridors of Richmond House, Westminster and BMA House, 212 clinical commissioning groups covering the entirety of England are undergoing authorisation by the NHS Commissioning Board to take over from PCTs from April 2013. The BMA and other unions are at loggerheads with the government over proposed NHS pension changes and ministers are expected to give the go-ahead imminently to revalidation of GPs.

There's a great deal for the BMA and the RCGP, thanks to the profile-raising work of its chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada, to discuss with Mr Hunt.

Mr Lansley spent many years shadowing the health secretary and it seems likely that his opinions may have been more firmly entrenched than Mr Hunt's. The BMA and the RCGP should waste no time in seeking to put their views to a fresh pair of ears.

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