A new team at DH
The complete overhaul at the Department of Health will come as a surprise to many as the Government attempts the biggest reorganisation of the NHS in the history of the health service. While Andrew Lansley had made his share of enemies with his controversial Health and Social Care Bill, to completely change the Department's team in the Commons will mean that those tasked with implementing these measures will not (except for Lord Howe) be those who designed them. Cameron's hope is surely that a new team of fresh faces can rebuild relationships between the Government and the health service. It may, however, prompt fears about how lack of coordination could affect the health service at this pivotal stage.
Jeremy Hunt, although he was long tipped for the top health job, is arguably lacking experience in this area having never held the shadow health portfolio. However, Norman Lamb, taking over the role of Minister for Care Services from his colleague Paul Burstow, will provide the experience Hunt lacks, having been the Liberal Democrats’ Shadow Secretary of State for Health from 2006-10. While replacing Paul Burstow is surprising on one level, as Burstow had put in a strong performance, many had tipped Norman Lamb for the job originally back in 2010. The appointment of Anna Soubry as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is a natural promotion, given that she was previously Parliamentary Private Secretary to Simon Burns. Equally the appointment of Daniel Poulter does not come as a surprise given his medical background and membership of the Health Select Committee.
The medical community has greeted the news of Hunt’s appointment with mixed reactions. The BBC's health correspondent reports that campaigners ‘have already seized on a pamphlet co-authored by Mr Hunt seven years ago which mooted universal insurance as a possible mechanism for health funding’. The BMA's official statement was positive, welcoming the ‘fresh opportunity for doctors and Government to work together’. Similarly the Royal College of Nurses has said they are looking to ‘work with the incoming Secretary of State’.