Jeremy Hunt secured the backing of 43 Conservative MPs yesterday, placing him second in the race to become the next Prime Minister.
The member for South West Surrey was put in charge of the foreign office in July, but has been keen to stress his experience in an earlier role: health secretary.
He told the BBC this morning that “the case I’ve been making” is that he could become “the first prime minister to have run our biggest public service, the NHS”.
But what about the key targets he missed during his six-year stint?
In 2015, Mr Hunt said “we want 5,000 more GPs by 2020”.
Within a few days, he said the figure was the “maximum” that was achievable and that there would have to be “flexibility” on the commitment.
There are various ways to measure the number of GPs in the NHS. It’s understood the pledge was to increase the full-time equivalent (FTE) GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020-21, using the 34,592 FTE GPs in September 2015 as a baseline.
Figures from NHS Digital show that when Mr Hunt left the Department of Health in July 2018, there were 162 more GPs in the NHS than there were when he made his original commitment.
And the latest stats suggest his successor, Matt Hancock, is unlikely to meet the target. In March 2019, there were 34,736 GPs in the NHS. To make good on the original pledge, the service would have to get an extra 4,856 GPs on the books in the next nine months.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the government has now dropped the time limit on the commitment.
A&E waiting times
The handbook to the NHS Constitution says at least 95 per cent of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.
When Jeremy Hunt took over as health secretary at the end of 2012, 94.9 per cent were seen in that time. By the time he left six years later, that figure had dropped to 84 per cent.
During the same period, the number of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E rose from just under 60,000 to over 190,000 when he left in July last year. That’s a threefold rise over his tenure.
In that time, there were some major peaks, as FactCheck reported last year.
Cancer waiting times
The NHS in England has a range of targets for cancer waiting times.
When Mr Hunt became health secretary, 95.4 per cent of patients urgently referred by their GP were seen by a specialist within two weeks, exceeding the national 93 per cent target. When he left in July 2018, the proportion seen in that time had dropped to 91.9 per cent.
The NHS applies the same target specifically for breast symptoms, including when cancer isn’t initially suspected. In the three months before Mr Hunt took over, 95.7 per cent of such patients saw a specialist within a fortnight. By the end of his tenure, that figure was 88.4 per cent.
NHS targets say 85 per cent of cancer patients should begin their first treatment within two months of being urgently referred by a GP. When Mr Hunt started at the Department of Health, 87.3 per cent had started treatment in that time. When he left, that had dropped to 78.3 per cent.