Andrew Lansley has today been moved from his position as health secretary as part of David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, with former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt replacing him.
Number 10 has confirmed that Mr Lansley, who has been in the role since 2010, has left his post and will be taking up the role of Leader of the House of Commons.
As the architect of the controversial Health and Social Care Act, Mr Lansley had been widely tipped to move following intense criticism received over his handling of the reforms, which led to deteriorating relations with the medical profession.
Mr Hunt, who has served as secretary of state for culture, media and sport for the past two years, has also faced his share of controversy during his tenure, recently surviving an examination by the Leveson enquiry, after he was accused of having improper contact with News Corporation during the company’s bid to takeover the running of BSkyB.
Reacting to the appointment, Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA, said: ‘We look forward to working with Jeremy Hunt on the many pressing issues facing our health service.
‘The appointment of a new Health Secretary provides a fresh opportunity for doctors and government to work together to improve patient care and deal with the many challenges facing the NHS.
‘The NHS is struggling to cope with the consequences of major change. At the same time worsening financial pressures are having an adverse impact on many patient services including waiting times and the availability of some treatments.
‘Threats to the NHS workforce are escalating with attacks to the NHS pension scheme and the national pay scheme for our national health service. Investment in staff is essential to the long term sustainability of the NHS.’
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said Mr Hunt was taking on ‘a critical brief at a critical time’.
Mr Farrar said: ‘Top of Mr Hunt’s in-tray will be making sure the NHS is financially sustainable for the future and fit to respond to the needs of our changing population.
‘The NHS reforms are important, but we must keep our eye on the long term issues the NHS is facing – an ageing population, and growing rates of obesity. Driving change in these areas will be the big test of the success of this Government.’
He added: ‘We would like to thank Andrew Lansley for his commitment to the NHS over the past eight and a half years, both in opposition and as health secretary. He has held his brief in health for almost a decade and that is something that not many other politicians can say they have done.’