New Health Secretary: what will his focus be?

Newly-appointed health secretary Steve Barclay. Credit: Gov UK

With the current news focussing very much on Boris Johnson resigning, it would be easy to forget about the previous Health & Social Care Secretary, Education Secretary, and Children’s Minister also handing in their resignation. Whilst we wait eagerly to hear about new appointments, The Rt Hon Steve Barclay has been pleased to take on the role of the new Health & Social Care Secretary.

At a time when the health and social care system is under particular pressure, and with the Build Back Better Health and Social Care plan underway, we will be interested to see where Mr Barclay will be placing his priorities.

In a recent tweet, Mr Barclay stated: “Looking forward to working with NHS England and social care staff. Together we will beat the Covid backlogs, boost patient access and ensure health services delivery for everyone.”

He also commented directly after his appointment: “It is an honour to take up the position of Health and Social Care Secretary. Our NHS and social care staff have shown us time and again – throughout the pandemic and beyond – what it means to work with compassion and dedication to transform lives.

“This government is investing more than ever before in our NHS and care services to beat the COVID-19 backlogs, recruit 50,000 more nurses, reform social care and ensure patients across the country can access the care they need.”

So, what do we know about The Rt Hon Steve Barclay? 

  • On 15 September 2021, he was appointed as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office 
  • From January to November 2018 he held the role of Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care 
  • From June 2017 to January 2018 he was the Economic Secretary to the Treasury
  • He served as a Government Whip in 2016/17 
  • He was a Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire in May 2010.

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We are yet to hear first-hand from Mr Barclay about what his first priorities will be, and with all the current commotion, this may not be for a few days. Some of the most pressing issues in the sector currently include surgery waiting times, the new plan for social care reform, NHS and social care recruitment and pay rates, and of course, continued concerns of a potential rise in Covid cases.

With a very unstable government and lots of question marks over senior positions, it is a concerning time for both the Health and Social Care and Children’s Services sectors. 

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