LONDON – He supports homeopathy, a practice that many experts liken to snake oil. He opposes late-term abortion, falling afoul of this mostly pro-choice nation. During the London Olympics, he offended many Britons with a jab at the cherished National Health Service.
This is Jeremy Hunt – Britain’s new health minister. He’s only been in his job since Tuesday, but already some experts fret that his controversial views and general knack for inviting scandal could sow confusion in an already fragile health system.
Hunt’s personal beliefs shouldn’t influence policy because his job will mostly be to implement reforms that have already been agreed on. Still, British media slammed Hunt’s appointment, mainly basing their criticism on his support of homeopathy. The Telegraph newspaper headline read: Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary: Are you kidding? The magazine New Scientist labeled him the new minister for magic.
And medical views aside, the 45-year-old ally of Prime Minister David Cameron has already developed an image as a magnet for controversy – notably during his just-completed stint as minister for media, culture and sport.
In that job, he was criticized for maintaining close ties to Rupert Murdoch even as a phone hacking scandal engulfed the tycoon.
Opposition lawmakers said Hunt, whose office had jurisdiction over Murdoch’s ambitions to take over a TV station, should face a government inquiry. Some had expected Hunt to be demoted after the scandal. But Cameron gave Hunt another high-profile job instead.