Victoria Atkins MP has been appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care as part of a Ministerial reshuffle. She replaces Steve Barclay MP who becomes Environment Secretary.
Ms Atkins has been the Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle since 2015. She was previously the Financial Secretary to the Treasury since October 2022. Other previous ministerial roles include Prisons Minister, and Women’s Minister.
Responding to the appointment, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The Secretary of State takes office as system and Trust leaders are digesting, and working out how to respond to, last week’s deeply disappointing funding announcement which saw their pleas for more funding to cover the costs of industrial action and inflation answered by taking investment away from key areas that are likely to harm the NHS in the long term.
“With its reshuffle, the government has an opportunity to revisit this decision in the imminent Autumn Statement, as well as more generally reset relationships with the health and care sector.
“While Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP has clearly been a divisive health and social care secretary, on behalf of our members we thank him for the progress he made to resolve the dispute with most trade unions that had facilitated strike activity and for the recent encouraging signs of progress in the talks with the BMA. It is vital that the NHS does not face further industrial action as this threat, both in terms of the financial hit and the growing waiting lists, continues to weigh heavily on the health service as winter approaches.
“We look forward to working constructively with Rt Hon Victoria Atkins to help deliver on the priorities of health leaders, their staff and patients.”
Health & Social Care Select Committee Chair Steve Brine MP said:
“I welcome the appointment of Victoria Atkins to the role of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
“Her appointment comes at a critical time for the NHS with the number of patients waiting for treatment at a record high. Preventing ill-health will be key to helping the NHS manage its resources. Prevention is one of this committee’s priorities and I hope it will be high up the on new Secretary of State’s agenda too.
“I thank Steve Barclay for his work at the Department of Health and Social Care and wish him well in his new role.”
Steve Sawyer, MD at Access Health, Support and Care said: “It’s important that the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care continues the important work of Steve Barclay and his team in using technology to bring real benefits to patients and NHS staff. The use of Virtual Wards, for example, to allow people to recover in their own homes, has given patients choice while increasing capacity in hospitals.
“But improvements in the NHS will only work if they also bring social care along on the journey and that means delivering truly integrated care.
“Representatives from social care on Integrated Care Boards would help that happen. From preventative care to delayed discharge from hospitals and dealing with delayed ambulance handovers outside A&E; uniting health and social care and allowing technology to deliver truly joined up care will deliver the biggest benefits.”