Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been replaced by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt as part of David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Lansley has been demoted to the role of Leader of the House after serving as Secretary of State for Health for two controversial years.
Mr Hunt said the new role was the “biggest privilege of his life” and that he was looking forward to starting work within his new department.
Lansley’s controversial reign will be remembered for the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act – which abolished Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts in favour of GP-led clinical commissioning.
The move – which was which contested by a host of national organisations representing healthcare professionals – resulted in thousands of NHS workers losing their jobs during an era of austerity within the health service.
Dr Kaliash Chand, who was recently elected as BMA Deputy Chairman, welcomed Mr Lansley’s removal and hoped his replacement would end the marketisation of the NHS.
He commented: “He has done an utterly miserable job. Especially considering he was shadow health secretary for six years. He was unable to explain what he wanted to achieve. He was not a good communicator. In my view he has not been a very good health secretary. He epitomised everything that has gone wrong in the last two years in the NHS.”
Stephen Whitehead, ABPI Chief Executive, “welcomed” Mr Hunt to the new role and thanked the outgoing Andrew Lansley for his efforts over the last two years. “The NHS is highly regarded both here in the UK and around the world and Jeremy Hunt will face a number of challenges in not only safeguarding its short term success, but its long term future.”
Mr Whitehead said that one of the first challenges the new health secretary faces is getting the latest medicines to patients. He added that the pharmaceutical industry will continue to work closely with the DH to “design a pricing system” that provides value for money for taxpayers whilst “ensuring a healthy and productive environment for companies to research and develop the medicines of the future.”
Mr Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey and the former Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, faced widespread criticism earlier this year when he urged David Cameron to support Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB – a month before he was due to decide whether the bid should be allowed.