UK Army General Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan is Appointed to Lead Biggest Overhaul of NHS

The growing costs of funding health and social care have long been on the agenda of the UK authorities and successive governments have tried to find a solution to the issue. The situation drastically deteriorated due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the government of Boris Johnson to introduce a new tax.
A retired UK Army general, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been appointed to lead what the government described as the biggest overhaul of the National Health Service (NHS), local media has reported.
Sir Gordon Messenger, former vice chief of the Defence Staff, commanded a unit of the Royal Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and served as top commander in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province from 2008 and 2009.
He has no background in healthcare, but over the past two years the retired serviceman has led a mass COVID-19 testing operation in Liverpool and according to local media outlets masterminded the hotel quarantine system for UK residents arriving from “red list” countries (nations with a serious epidemiological situation).

Sir Gordon Messenger was asked to eradicate “waste and wokery” in the system and ensure “every pound is well spent” amid concerns that too much of taxpayers money is going on bureaucracy. Besides tackling the backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic and improving the NHS’ performance and efficiency, the upcoming shake-up is expected to reduce sharp inequalities between regions as part of the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

According to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Messenger will work closely with NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard and a group of experts, including officials from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Sir Gordon’s nomination prompted criticism from opposition MPs, who voiced concern that the review may lead to the privatisation of some services, while attempts to improve efficiency and avoid waste will lead to mass sackings.

The government of Boris Johnson maintains that the overhaul will look at how to improve the system’s performance and strengthen the leadership.

“I am determined to make sure the NHS and social care delivers for the people of this country for years to come and leadership is so important to that mission. This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation. It will help make sure individuals and families get the care and treatment they need, wherever they are in the country, as we build back better”, said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The current overhaul follows the introduction of a new health and social care tax across the United Kingdom. Under the government plan, the new levy would raise 12 billion pounds ($16.2 billion) a year. The money will be used to deal with difficulties that have been plaguing the UK health service and social care, namely the growing costs of funding, reducing the number of waiting lists, dealing with staff shortages, as well as helping the care system to look after older people and individuals with high care needs.

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