Sajid Javid said his “most immediate priority” will be getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic when he accepted the post of Minister of Health.
Speaking to the media for the first time since taking over Matt Hancock on Saturday, Mr. Javid said he acknowledged the “great responsibility” he faced.
And he promised to “do everything in my power to make sure I deliver for this great country.”
Mr Javid’s return to cabinet came just 90 minutes after Mr Hancock announced his resignation on Saturday after video footage leaked showing him breaking the rules of social distancing by kissing an assistant in his ministerial office.
Mr Javid, a former Chancellor and Home Secretary, said Mr Hancock worked “incredibly hard” and “achieved a lot,” adding, “We are still in a pandemic and I want this to end as soon as possible possible and that will be my most immediate priority so that we can get back to normal as quickly and as quickly as possible. “
Although the pandemic was Mr Javid’s foreground, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had a number of other issues to resolve, including social welfare.
Mr Hunt was told on the Andrew Marr Show that when he held the role, he has not been able to overtake the sector in six years.
When asked how much longer Mr Javid had, he said, “Six months because the government has announced that they will do so by the end of this year and I know Sajid wants to keep that promise.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the British Medical Association Council, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul that Mr Javid needed to be “honest” with the public in order to deal with a supply backlog and negotiate the resources the NHS needed.
He told Sky News that there was “a record of over five million patients on waiting lists,” which “excludes about 20 million patients who were not seen in outpatient departments last year.”
He added, “Many of these patients get sick and sick over time. Many of them have health problems that will get worse if not treated right away.
“And what he has to do is manage this crisis in such a way that priorities are set but also be honest with the public about how long it will take.”
Mr Javid’s appointment came after Boris Johnson initially stayed with Mr Hancock after the Sun newspaper revealed CCTV footage of him kissing Gina Coladangelo, taken last month, around 1am on Friday.
Mr Hancock was reportedly made aware of the footage on Thursday night and apologized on the Friday after it was released, but did not resign immediately.
Number 10 said the Prime Minister considered the matter closed following Mr Hancock’s apology, but pressure rose throughout the day and well into Saturday and Conservative MPs began asking Mr Hancock to leave.
Just after 6 p.m. on Saturday, Mr Hancock said he had been to Mr Johnson’s to submit his resignation as his personal life threatened to distract from pandemic efforts.
And less than two hours later, Mr. Javid had been confirmed in the mail.
When asked by Trevor Phillips on Sky News Sunday whether Mr Hancock only saw fit to step down once criticism rose, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said, “Matt said in his own letter I believe – and ultimately I think – he “has probably made the right judgment in the sense that he does not want this situation around him to distract from this focus and the key work of government, which is to help the people of the pandemic and to overcome it Pandemic to help. “
He added, “I think it was right that the Prime Minister and Matt have continued to focus for the past few days on having that experience, that knowledge that has been there for the past year and a half or so in dealing with the pandemic, to focus on the pandemic.
“And I don’t think that contradicts Matt’s also taking the opportunity to look at and reflect on the situation and decide that his position is distracting from the work that has emerged from the pandemic, and I think It is thanks to Matt that his focus is not just on his family, but on the wider country and the UK’s best interests. “
But Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell said the fact that Mr Hancock was not fired by the Prime Minister on Friday shows “a very dangerous blind spot”.
She told Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “These are the tough choices the leadership makes, and I fear I feel that the Prime Minister has a very dangerous blind spot when it comes to issues of integrity and conduct in public life. and that’s really one thing. It’s a big problem, and it’s an even bigger problem when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and asking the public to also show integrity and conduct in the way they deal with their own Avoid life. “