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Andy Burnham appointed health secretary as Johnson and Bradshaw move on

By Gareth Iacobucci

Culture secretary Andy Burnham has been appointed as the new health secretary, according to reports.

Mr Burnham, who served as health minister with responsibility for primary care from 2006-7, replaces Alan Johnson, who has been appointed home secretary as embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown's shuffles his cabinet following the local election disaster for Labour.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw has also reportedly left his post, and will replace Mr Burnham as culture secretary.

The moves have been reportedly widely although a Downing Street spokesperson was unable to confirm any changes, and said a statement would be issued later today.

Mr Johnson has been in the post since June 2007, when he succeeded Patricia Hewitt and has won widespread praise from both political commentators and GPs for his charismatic leadership skills, despite being behind a string of hugely controversial reforms, including the imposition of extended hours and GP led health centres.

Described by GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman as 'a man we can do business with', Mr Johnson went on to front two bloody negotiation rounds with the BMA, including the huge row over the Government's extended hours drive.

He also infamously remarked that he could 'not care less' which GP he saw.

Commenting on Mr Johnson's departure, King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘It's frustrating to have another change at the top when Alan Johnson had been in post for less than two years. This move has nothing to do with what is best for the health service.

However, he praised Mr Burnham, adding: ‘If a change had to be made we welcome the choice of Andy Burnham. He has experience of the health system both as a minister and in his earlier career and he has shown he is committed to the NHS and to reform.'

"I'm going to the home office": departing Health Secretary Alan Johnson Departing Health Secretary Alan Johnson Andy Burnham - replaces Alan Johnson as Health Secretary Andy Burnham - replaces Alan Johnson as Health Secretary

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