Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt appointed to guide Norfolk and Waveney through healthcare revolution

Newly appointed STP indepedent chair for Norfolk and Waveney, Patricia Hewitt. Photo: NNUH

Newly appointed STP indepedent chair for Norfolk and Waveney, Patricia Hewitt. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

A former Labour health secretary has been appointed to guide Norfolk and Waveney through what could be the more radical revolution the health system has ever seen.

Patricia Hewitt, who served as health secretary under Tony Blair from 2005 to 2007, has been appointed as the independent chair of Norfolk and Waveney's Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

MORE: More home births and merging services between three major Norfolk hospitals - How local NHS revolution will affect YOUShe will take over from John Fry - chair of Norwich and Norwich University Hospital - who had been in the role in the interim. He said she would bring 'huge insight and experience' to the role.

Across the country 44 STPs have been drawn up in a bid to save billions of pounds. In our region it is estimated the NHS would see a £440m budget deficit by 2020 if nothing was done, with our STP focussing on care in the community and prevention in a bid to bring costs down.

MORE: 'More detail needed in region's new health plan' - Norman Lamb writes to project leaderMrs Hewitt, 68, will work with the STP executive, to ensure the plan for health and care services is developed and delivered for the benefit of patients.

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She said: 'I am looking forward immensely to my new role. This is a crucial time in health and care services and we must work together collaboratively to continue to provide, and ensure the future of, high quality services for patients in Norfolk and Waveney.'

Mrs Hewitt was first elected in 1997 in the Leicester West constituency, where she remained the MP until she stepped down from politics in 2010.

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Her tenure had its successes including the introduction of a complete smoking ban in England and the NHS finishing the 2006/07 financial year with a £510m surplus.

MORE: What does 2017 hold in store for the region's NHS?But her two years in office also had its problems, including the controversy over a job application system for junior doctors known as the Medical Training Application Service, which was later subject to a Department of Health investigation for revealing the personal data of applicants.

Since leaving politics, she and her husband William Birtle moved to Norfolk - where they have lived for six years.

MORE: Hospital closures ruled out by NHS chiefs as councillors discuss new health planMrs Hewitt has also been a member of the Age UK Development Board since its inception 18 months ago and for eight years has been chair of the UK India Business Council, but is stepping down from this role later this year.

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