Former minister to chair Commons health committee
A former junior health minister has been selected as the new chair of the Commons health and social care committee.
Steve Brine was voted into the role by other MPs, after five politicians put themselves forward to head the committee following former chair Jeremy Hunt’s appointment as chancellor.
Mr Brine, who has been the MP for Winchester since 2010, served as a junior health minister in the Department of Health (and then the Department of Health and Social Care, as it later became) between June 2017 and March 2019. His responsibilities included public health and primary care.
He resigned from his ministerial role over the government’s handling of Brexit.
Reacting to his appointment as committee chair, Mr Brine said: “The ability of the health and social care sectors to continue to deliver for patients is a key priority for this committee, particularly how to deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic and the need to recruit a workforce now that’s capable of meeting future demand.
“Further pressures look unavoidable given the current economic climate andthe chief executive of the NHS has set that out in her own way today…
“Despite spending vast sums on health, we fail to reap the rewards in better outcomes. We need to understand why and to press the government about getting better value for our money.”
Meanwhile, in his candidate statement, Mr Brine said that former health secretary “Therese Coffey was right to diagnose her ABCD of problems to address”. However, he added he would include mental health on the list of issues, in addition to ambulances, backlog, care, and doctors and dentists, while his own priorities for health policy were prevention, cancer, and workforce.
The other four candidates for the role were:
- Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, who was health minister from November 2018 to July 2019;
- Caroline Johnson, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, who is a paediatrician and was briefly junior health minister in Liz Truss’ government;
- Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot; and
- James Morris, MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis and who was a junior health minister in the last weeks of Boris Johnson’s government.
All the candidates are from the Conservative party. It was agreed following the last general election that only a Conservative MP could chair the Commons health and social care committee.