Improving survival rates and looking after the elderly are key priorities for the National Health Service going forward, new health secretary Jeremy Hunt has this morning told delegates at the Conservatives conference.

Claiming that the NHS is at a "critical moment," Hunt said he wants to give patients in Britain the best survival rates in Europe for serious diseases, and change the way we look after older people.

In his first speech as Health Secretary, Hunt praised his predecessor Andrew Lansley for driving through reforms that are "brave, right, and will make the NHS stronger".

"Andrew Lansley gave us a new structure, I want to be the Health Secretary who transformed the culture of the system to look after old people" Hunt said. 

He went on to stress that the country is facing an unprecedented challenge - for the first time, there are more pensioners than children and the biggest priority must be to transform what is on offer to an ageing popoulation. 

In particular, we need to change in way we look after dementia, which will will affect one in three over the age of 65. With the right care and support people can live well for many years, he said, but added that, shockingly, less than half of those with the condition diagnosed, leaving thousands of patients without treatment.

The prime minister introduced the Dementia Challenge to help address these issues, but Hunt said he wants to "raise the game", so that, by the next election, "we will be among best in Europe at dealing with these conditions".

Also, in response to some recent "shocking failures" in the quality of care, such at that at the Mid-Staffs hospital and Ashcourt Care Home Hunt warned that all managers will now be held responsible for the care in their own establishments.

As such, as of today, the government is looking into how managers can be held accountable for the care they provide, both in the NHS and in social care.


The final challenge, Hunt said, is in bringing the technology revolution to the NHS, which has "barely touched the NHS in terms of patient experience".