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Reaction: Andrew Lansley’s appointment as health secretary

GP leaders and other key healthcare opinion formers give their reaction to the appointment of Andrew Lansley as the new health secretary.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chair

'The formation of a new Government is an opportunity to continue the spirit of co-operation and pragmatism, exemplified by their coalition agreement, which will be needed in the tight financial climate we face in the health service.'

'There are extremely difficult decisions ahead and more than ever, we need a period of stability and a working environment that encourages partnership and co-operation. There is intense pressure to make savings, but cutting clinical staff or frontline services would be not only short-sighted, but could also cause irreparable damage to the NHS.'

Professor Chris Ham, King's Fund chief executive

‘Andrew Lansley has a deep understanding of our health system. His grasp of the key issues facing the NHS will enable him to hit the ground running, which is essential given it is facing the most significant financial challenge in its history. The new Secretary of State must set the NHS on a new course to transform itself from a service that diagnoses and treats sickness to one that predicts and prevents it.'

‘The confirmation that the health budget will increase in real terms over the course of the parliament is good news for the NHS, although this is unlikely to be enough to keep pace with demand for services and cost pressures. Closing the £21 billion productivity gap we estimate the NHS is facing must be its top priority if it is to maintain quality and avoid cutting services.'

‘We hope the focus on improving public health promised in the manifestos will be at the heart of the new government's agenda. Whether or not the coalition government is able to tackle the economic and social determinants of poor health and reduce health inequalities will be a test of whether it can work effectively across departmental boundaries - something that eluded its predecessors.'

Steve Barnett, NHS Confederation chief executive

'We congratulate Andrew Lansley on his appointment and look forward to continuing the constructive relationship we had developed while he was in opposition.'

'The NHS faces significant challenges as it will have to make £15-20 billion of efficiency savings over the next five years.'

'Helping the NHS through this period will require all relevant groups to work together so that we can safeguard public support of and confidence in the NHS.'