Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed Steve Barclay, former chief of staff at Number 10, as health secretary following Sajid Javid’s resignation.
It comes as part of a major cabinet switch-up, spurred in part by Mr Javid’s departure and Rishi Sunak’s resignation as chancellor.
Mr Johnson has since announced his own resignation today (7 July).
Mr Barclay – who has served as the MP for North East Cambridgeshire since 2010 – previously served as a Brexit secretary.
He was also appointed chief of staff at Downing Street in February in response to the partygate scandal.
In his resignation letter, Mr Javid told Mr Johnson that he cannot ‘in good conscience’ continue working for this Government, adding that the Prime Minister had ‘lost my confidence’.
Mr Javid said: ‘Given the unprecedented scale of the challenges in health and social care, it has been my instinct to continue focusing on this important work.
‘So it is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this Government. I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government.’
Commenting on the resignation, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Mr Javid’s departure presents an opportunity for more realism in the immediate challenges facing the NHS. In particular, there needs to be greater recognition from both the new health and social care secretary and chancellor that if we are to create an NHS that is fit for the future, then this must be reflected in the capital investment it is given.’
He added that the NHS needs ‘boldness and commitment’ from the new secretary to support calls within the sector for a fully-funded workforce strategy, in addition to fair pay for both health and social care workers.
Mr Taylor said: ‘The new health and social care secretary will be joining as cost of living pressures grow and as coronavirus and associated hospital admissions are on the up once again. After everything the NHS has been through over the last two years, health leaders need political stability from the Government alongside immediate acknowledgement from their new health and social care secretary that the present situation is understood and with no sugar coating.’
Mr Javid’s main involvement in general practice was his call for GPs to see more patients face to face, and in October last year he released the winter access fund, which promised £250m worth of funding in return for a number of measures described as ‘draconian’ by GP leaders. He was also rumoured to be looking at hospitals taking over GP services, following on from the model in Wolverhampton, where the trusts runs ten separate practices.