In January, the Department of Health was renamed the Department of Health and Social Care. In the cabinet reshuffle, existing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt kept his job, though it now comes with a new title: Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. However, as part of that reshuffle, two new ministers were welcomed to the enlarged re-named department. Notably, Caroline Dinenage was appointed as Minister of State for Care. Here we look at her background, what her new role entails, and give a pointer for success in it.
Who is Caroline Dinenage?
With 20 years’ experience as a small business owner, Caroline Dinenage entered Parliament when she was elected as MP for Gosport, Stubbington, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head in the 2010 General Election. She has risen to prominence quickly in government. Her governmental career to date includes that she:
- Sat on the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee between 2012 and 2015
- Was appointed as Small Business Ambassador for the South in June 2013
- Was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP between April 2014 and May 2015
- Served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice at the Ministry of Justice and DfE between May 2015 and July 2016
What will the Minister’s responsibilities be in her new role?
As Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of adult social care. After the post of Minister for Social Care had been removed previously, the appointment is a welcome one. It should help to give greater emphasis to the pressing needs within the sector, especially with an ageing population.
In addition to her role as overseer of adult social care, Caroline Dinenage will also be responsible for:
- Care of dementia, loneliness, and disabilities
- Hospital care quality and patient safety
- Community health services
- Health and social care integration
Where should the Minister start?
Caroline Dinenage could be a breath of fresh air to the Department of Health and Social Care. With a business brain, she is likely to view the landscape differently to many who have gone before her.
She should understand that the problems within the sector are like the problems in more traditional businesses. Care is, after all, becoming a customer choice. It’s not unreasonable that customers want – and expect – a high standard of care. The question is, how do you provide this?
Throughout history, quality has been the foundation of all successful long-term businesses. Unless you provide quality services and products, you will lose to the competition. In the service industry, the quality of services delivered is directly affected by the quality of people providing them.
So, here’s our advice to the new Minister. Ensure that people are suitably qualified to work in the care sector. Make it your purpose to ensure that businesses and providers in the sector are suitably incentivised to improve the quality of their employees through a combination of training and coaching. This is the key to creating the framework of quality care in the UK that will be needed as demands upon it grow in the coming years.
Minister, if you can do this, where so many before you have failed, then you could be remembered as the Minister who shaped the UK as a global leader in the provision of adult social care services. It’s an objective that the whole sector hopes you achieve.