Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his new parliamentary cabinet, following the Conservative party’s unprecedented victory in the General Election last week (7 May).
Mr Cameron will head the first Conservative-only cabinet in 18 years, after the Tories won more than half of the 650 seats in the election. The victory means that the Tories will push on with manifesto pledges, including its promises to increase NHS funding and further integrate health and social care.
Jeremy Hunt remains in post as Secretary of State for Health, while Alistair Burt joins as Minister of State for Health, taking over from Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb. Mr Lamb has announced that he will stand for Lib Democrats leadership following the resignation of Nick Clegg after the party’s crushing defeat in the election. Andy Burnham remains as shadow secretary for health.
George Osborne remains in post as Chancellor and Iain Duncan Smith as Secretary for Work and Pensions. Meanwhile, outspoken MP Eric Pickles has been replaced by former universities minister Greg Clark, as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with no new role announced for Mr Pickles.
Details of the new House of Commons Health Select Committee are yet to emerge, with members and a new chair to be selected following the Queen’s Speech at the end of the month (27 May).
The new government will face a number of challenges, including meeting promises made to Scotland after the 2014 independence vote – which will be closely observed with 56 MPs from the Scottish Nationalist Party in Westminster.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reports that the party is committed to Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View, which called for additional funding of £8bn a year for NHS England by 2020.
However, the ‘Blue wash’ of Westminster will do little to ease the worries of the anti-privatisation league, as the Conservatives were the only party not to exclude the NHS from the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – an agreement which could open the door for large multinational firms to control NHS service delivery.
The HSJ also reports that decision-making could now be accelerated, with the health service moving away from traditional primary care delivery to a “multi-speciality community provider” approach.
In addition to the challenges of healthcare, the Conservatives have also pledged £12bn in unspecified cuts to the welfare system and a referendum on Europe by 2016.
Full details of the cabinet are available on the gov.uk website.