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New government health adviser teams revealed

Published on: 8 Sep 2022

Former hospital chief Samantha Jones is leaving government after her role was abolished in Liz Truss’ Downing Street shake-up, but former NHS England director Emily Lawson remains.

Ms Jones was appointed senior health and care adviser to the PM in March last year, but took on the new role of permanent secretary and chief operating officer of a new Office of the Prime Minister in the wake of the Partygate scandal, as part of a bid to provide the fallen PM with the “professional operation to deliver his agenda”.

This role has been removed by Ms Truss as part of a wider reorganisation of Downing Street.

Ms Truss has reduced staffing in Number 10 to a core operation that includes a smaller team of special political advisers, private office and communications.

The policy, data and delivery units – the last of these headed by former NHSE commercial director and covid vaccine rollout lead Emily Lawson – are being slimmed down or moved to the Cabinet Office. 

Ms Lawson, who was widely praised for the successes of the vaccine rollout, will remain as the head of the delivery unit, a role she was seconded to in April 2021HSJ understands.

Ninjeri Pandit, who became health and social care lead in the delivery unit last year, will now work as director of policy for health and public services, and health delivery, also based in the Cabinet Office. She was previously director of the office of the NHSE chief executive, a role she took on under Simon (now Lord Stevens).

There has been speculation in the press that the teams which have moved to the Cabinet Office will find it harder to have an influence now that they are outside Number 10.

Meanwhile, Caroline Elsom, who advised Thérèse Coffey during her three years at the Department of Work and Pensions, will cover the health brief in Number 10 as special political adviser for public services. Before working with the secretary of state, Ms Elsom spent two years at the Thatcherite Centre for Policy Studies.

At the DHSC, Ms Coffey – a close friend of Ms Truss who will also serve as deputy PM – will be joined by three SpAds moving with her from the DWP. They are Tim Sculthorpe, a former journalist who will lead on media, Ed Winfield, and Jessica Prestidge. 

The new health and social care secretary will also be supported by Robert Jenrick, who formerly served as housing and local government secretary and now re-joins government as a health minister. Colchester MP and former schools minister Will Quince has also been confirmed as a minister in the department, and is expected to lead on social care.