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Jeremy Hunt leaves health secretary role as culture secretary takes over

Jeremy Hunt has been appointed foreign secretary, with digital, culture, media and sport secretary Matt Hancock named as his successor as health secretary. 

Mr Hunt had recently become the longest serving health secretary, having taken the role in September 2012. He had previously said that health secretary was his last major role in politics. 

However, following Boris Johnson’s resignation earlier today, Mr Hunt was appointed foreign secretary. 

Mr Hancock was appointed digital, culture, media and sport secretary in January 2018 having been a junior minister in the department since July 2016. He was first elected an MP in the 2010 general election in the West Suffolk constituency.

Before entering parliament, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and as chief of staff to then shadow chancellor George Osbourne.

The reshuffle comes as former foreign secretary Boris Johnson resigned over the Brexit agreement.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Hancock initially supported the campaign for the UK to remain the EU, but later backed the referendum result in support of Brexit.

On leaving his position, Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: ‘Massive wrench for me to leave health – I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec but the NHS, and particularly patient safety, has become my passion & it really was the greatest privilege of my life to serve for so many years.’

He added: ‘Couldn’t ask for a better successor than @matthancock to take forward long term NHS plan with his brilliant understanding of the power of technology. The new NHS app will be in safe hands!’

Mr Hancock said on social media that he was ‘really looking forward to joining’ the department of health and social care ‘at such an important time for our great NHS’, adding that he ‘can’t wait to get started’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, congratulated the new health secretary.

He said: ‘While there is a new secretary of state, the challenges the health service faces remain the same. Patients are facing longer waits for care, so-called “winter pressures” in the NHS are now hitting the service all year round, and it lacks doctors, nurses, and beds.’

This comes after the only GP in a minister post Dr Phillip Lee announced his resignation last month over Brexit policy, calling it ‘detrimental to the people we are elected to serve’.