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Barclay back as health secretary

Published on: 26 Oct 2022

Steve Barclay has again been appointed as health and social care secretary, after Therese Coffey was moved to another cabinet post.

Mr Barclay held the health brief for a brief spell over the summer, during the last weeks of Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister.

Before that he was chief secretary to the Treasury, where he had a reputation for being very hawkish towards the health service, resisting moves to spend more on it. He was also a health minister from January to November 2018.

During his short spell as health secretary over July and August this year, Mr Barclay had a particular focus on ambulance handover delays, at one stage summoning the bosses of six trusts with the worst problems.

He also ordered a recruitment freeze at the Department of Health Social Care and NHS England, and told central bodies to significantly cut back on consultancy spending.

During his tenure the DHSC also issued briefings around plans to ramp up short-term overseas recruitment to bolster social care over winter.

Health leaders reacted with dismay to his previous appointment, saying he viewed the NHS as a “bottomless pit, resistant to change and unaccountable”. They also said he had a “hard-edged” style which rubbed people up the wrong way, and some felt it equating to bullying.

Ms Coffey has been appointed secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs by new prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Meanwhile, Robert Jenrick has left DHSC, having been appointed immigration minister in the Home Office. He was made health minister in Liz Truss’ cabinet reshuffle at the start of last month

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been re-appointed as chancellor.