This is an updated version of the article posted in July, when Steve Barclay first became health secretary
Following the departure of Sajid Javid as health secretary, Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately installed Steve Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office as Javid’s replacement in July.
He was replaced in September, when Liz Truss became prime minister and installed Therese Coffey as health secretary.
In his two months as health secretary, Mr Barclay didn’t make too many waves, although he did approve a 4.5% pay rise for NHS staff, including recommending the rise for salaried GPs and practice staff – however, this did not come with a funding increase for GP practices.
Mr Barclay had served as health minister before – from January to November 2018. But he was most notable for being a Johnson loyalist and a fervent supporter of the leave campaign.
While Mr Barclay didn’t make huge waves as a health minister either, it seems as though he has some form for campaigns around GPs.
In 2012, he whipped up a storm by claiming that GPs were receiving £1.6m for ‘writing neatly’. He told the Times: ‘If it wasn’t so serious it really would be funny,’ he said. ‘The reason for highlighting this is to show up a culture of a lack of accountability within the NHS.
A year later, he wrote on Conservative Home about the case of Dr Daniel Ubani, who unlawfully killed a patient by injecting them with 100mg of diamorphine.
Mr Barclay wrote: ‘Five years on, the Department of Health’s decision to draw up a nationwide register of doctor’s [sic] with proven language skills and medical expertise will prevent those unfit to practice like Daniel Ubani from simply moving from one health authority to another. It will also protect future patients and prevent families like David Gray’s from experiencing the heartache of the avoidable death of a loved one.
‘The need for cross-border checks on foreign doctors is all the more pressing given the GMC’s admission that in the last five years, 63% of doctors struck off or suspended were trained outside the UK.’
And in 2014, he continued a campaign against GPs who remove themselves from the medical register before facing a GMC hearing. He told the Telegraph at the time: ‘There is a systemic failure in the disciplinary process that applies to doctors which gives insufficient weight to patients and their families. Voluntary erasure enables GPs to play for time, delay disciplinary hearings and then to walk away before they have concluded.
‘There is a culture of secrecy because names are routinely not made public. In other cases, where doctors have been named, they are able to call a halt to their own disciplinary case.’
Other than his time as a health minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Mr Barclay was previously chief secretary to the Treasury from February 2020 to September 2021, secretary for exiting the EU from November 2018 to January 2020 and economic secretary to the Treasury from June 2017 to January 2018.
He was educated at King Edward VII School in Lytham St. Annes Lancashire before reading history at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He later studied law at the College of Law, Chester. He worked as a solicitor before becoming a politician.