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Wes Streeting confirmed as Labour’s health secretary

Wes Streeting confirmed as Labour’s health secretary
By Eliza Parr
8 July 2024

Wes Streeting has been appointed health secretary under the new Labour Government, following the party’s landslide win in the general election.

The MP for Ilford North only very narrowly held on to his parliamentary seat, with an independent candidate standing on a pro-Palestine platform just 500 votes behind.

He was named shadow secretary of state for health and social care in 2021, taking over from Jonathan Ashworth, who lost his seat last week to another pro-Palestine independent.

Before this, Mr Streeting served as shadow secretary for child poverty and as shadow minister for schools.

He takes over leadership of the Department of Health and Social Care from Conservative MP Victoria Atkins, who had served since November 2023 following a string of new health secretaries over the last three years.

Andy Burnham, who now serves as Mayor of Greater Manchester, was the last Labour politician to hold this Cabinet position, from 2009 to 2010.

Mr Streeting has recently promised that general practice ‘has a lot to look forward to’ under a Labour Government, but has revealed few concrete policies for primary care.

And former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn – who spearheaded increased private involvement in the NHS – is set to return in a role related to NHS reform.

Mr Milburn, who led the Department of Health for four years in the early 2000s, will support the new health secretary Wes Streeting in efforts to reform the NHS, according to a Sunday Telegraph report. 

Mr Milburn’s role has not yet been agreed, and a Labour source ruled out the possibility of his appointment as NHS England chair, following speculation last week.

Labour’s election manifesto pledged to ‘reform’ primary care, trialling ‘neighbourhood health centres’ which would have GPs and other community health staff ‘under one roof’.

The manifesto carried no immediate promises of increased investment in general practice but said the party will ‘return the family doctor’, and will shift more money to primary care over time.

The new health secretary has also pledged to review the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) and cut GP bureaucracy under a Labour Government.

Many doctor leaders have called for GPs to be included in the ARRS, as currently it gives a ‘perverse incentive’ for PCNs to hire less-qualified healthcare professionals instead of GPs.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse.

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