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A light reset: Matt Hancock’s diary

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

A light reset: Matt Hancock’s diary

Isn’t it frustrating when tech doesn’t work? According to the driver console my Jag is due a service, but it shouldn’t need one for another 10,000 miles. Ring the dealer who tells me to bring it in for a light reset.

It’s extraordinary in this day and age that they can’t do it online. But it gives me an idea. I’ll come back to it in a minute.

I’m literally full of ideas. In the past week I’ve given a lot of speeches, where I’ve had a chance to share some of my best ones. I’ve also posted a few videos of me talking about my speeches in case you missed them.

NHS Expo was brilliant. Full of people like me, only less important, obviously. Great people nonetheless, who completely share my passion for tech. In my keynote speech I set out my three challenges: technology, innovation and something about workforce.

Bump into the Stevens fellow. Poor chap still seems to think he’s in charge and even gives a speech of his own. Ruddy cheek! I tell Lucinda to have a quiet word with the organisers to make sure he doesn’t get on the agenda again.  

You can read my speech online – do, it’s pretty good. In essence I said we need the best tech in the world, but that it has to be right, it all has to work together and it shouldn’t be too expensive. Nobody had realised that which is why we literally wasted £10bn on the National Programme for IT. What a pity I wasn’t in charge then.


Some people may wonder what my qualifications are. Well they’re pretty impressive. My first job in tech was to solve the millennium bug. This was a huge deal in the late 1990s, when people were worried that planes would fall from the sky, power stations would stop working and nuclear missiles would go off, ending humanity and doing untold damage to the economy. When none of that happened, some people said the bug was a damp squib. But it only wasn’t a global disaster thanks to people like me.

Nobody imagined I was serious when I said I would stop having Monday meetings with so called system leaders. JH advised me to keep them going, but the poor fellow had the wrong end of the stick. These people know nothing about systems. None of them has ever written a single line of code. Most of them are just NHS managers and senior doctors with no frontline tech experience. I’m looking into how they were ever allowed to call themselves system leaders. It’s one of the first things I’ll change.

The time I’ve saved talking to men in suits lets me get out and meet the real people behind the NHS. One of my first tasks is to get to grips with social care, so I ask Lucinda to book me a visit to a typical residential home. 

Thank you, chef

And so I find myself at the Cliff Richard Summer Holiday Village in Weybridge with nothing but my media team and a camera crew. It’s a very nice place. The inmates are polite, clean and seem to have all their marbles. They have a bar, sauna, cinema, boutique shopping complex and access to round the clock care.

There’s even a cricket pitch. It goes without saying that we have a bit of a knock up for the benefit of the cameras. I go in to bat at lunchtime and am still going strong when we break for tea. The old boys are tired at the end and a couple of them have to be stretchered off, but I give them some fielding tips and tell them to work on their fitness.

As we polish off a nice dinner provided by the home’s Michelin starred chef I reflect that the problems in social care may not be as bad as everyone says. You’ve just got to get out there, roll up your sleeves, strap on your pads and knock the challenges for six.


So back to that light reset. As soon as I leave the garage, I get straight on to NHS Improvement and tell them to publish the real figures for trust deficits. Lucinda thinks I’ve lost the plot, but I explain it to her as patiently as I can.

Where JH went wrong was to keep up the pretence that things aren’t all that bad when they’re clearly terrible. All I’m doing is resetting expectations at a much lower level. Life is so much easier without a warning light flashing at you every five minutes.

It didn’t take me long to sort out the Jag. I’ll soon have the NHS firing on all cylinders again.

Diary editor: Julian Patterson


Tommy Stevenson
Tommy Stevenson says:
Sep 14, 2018 09:45 AM

love it, any chance you could start a blog from the Scottish minister it would be even funnier because they genuinely don't have a clue

Jack Corbett
Jack Corbett says:
Sep 14, 2018 01:19 PM

Some great lines as ever. Whatever your feelings about their services, you have to admit Babylon Health and BenevolentAI sound like they have been spat out of an evil movie corporation name generator.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 14, 2018 05:50 PM

Thanks for the comments. The Scottish minister is outside my jurisdiction. Blogging rights were devolved. I try never to associate with evil movie corporations.

Anonymous says:
Sep 19, 2018 05:29 PM

Really enjoying the MH diaries. Reminds me of something one might find in Private Eye.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 20, 2018 02:51 PM

Thanks Anon. That's high praise.