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Low NHS morale is 'heartbreaking', says Matt Hancock

Seeing how NHS staff feel “undervalued” is “heartbreaking”, the new Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

In his first speech since taking the job, Mr Hancock also said he was horrified at the level of bullying reported by staff.

The British Medical Association welcomed the sentiment but said it needed to be underpinned by action.

Mr Hancock, the former digital and culture secretary, also said £487m is to be spent on technology for the NHS.

Of that money, £412m will be used to improve technology in hospitals and to give more patients access to health services at home.

The remaining £75m will be put towards replacing paper systems with electronic ones – a move which, it is hoped, will reduce medication errors.

Last week it was revealed that some hospitals are still reliant on fax machines.

Addressing staff at West Suffolk Hospital on Thursday, Mr Hancock said: “Let this be clear: tech transformation is coming”.

He added that he wanted to drive “a culture change” where the NHS is always looking for and embracing “the best possible technology”.

Earlier this month the government unveiled a new NHS mobile app that would allow patients to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see their medical files.

Addressing NHS staff concerns, he is expected to pledge to champion the workforce and will announce a consultation exercise on workforce issues.

The British Medical Association has said GPs are leaving the profession at an increasing rate due to feeling undervalued which is fuelling a crisis in the sector.

Mr Hancock also called for an end to the “over prescription of unsophisticated drugs”, focusing instead on approaches that address a person’s physical and mental well-being.

‘Sorely let down’

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said patients would feel “sorely let down” that reducing waiting lists “isn’t the first priority of the new health secretary”.

“Investment in technology is welcome but years of Tory austerity has seen hospitals build up a £5bn repair backlog, resulting in clinicians nationwide using hundreds of pieces of equipment that are years out of date, as recently revealed by Labour.

“And commitments to prevention will ring hollow without reversing the substantial cuts to public health budgets, which are set to reach £800m by 2020/21.”

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Mr Hancock takes on the job of health secretary as the NHS develops its 10-year plan.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to increase health spending by £20bn a year in real terms by 2024.

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BBC News – Health