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Tory leadership candidate appointed health minister

Published on: 14 Nov 2023

Two new ministers have been appointed to the Department of Health and Social Care in Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle. 

Andrew Stephenson has been named health minister and Dame Andrea Leadsom has become junior health minister.

The appointments come after health minister Will Quince and junior health minister Neil O’Brien resigned on Monday morning.

The department also has a new health and care secretary, after Victoria Atkins replaced Steve Barclay. Mr Barclay, who had been in the post since October last year, has been appointed environment secretary.

Dame Andrea, MP for South Northamptonshire since 2010, is returning to a government post for the first time since 2020. Her previous posts include environment secretary and leader of the House of Commons. She was most recently business secretary, from summer 2019 until early 2020, when she was removed in a reshuffle by then prime minister Boris Johnson. 

In 2021, she chaired a report commissioned by Mr Johnson – The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days – which examined public health needs from conception to age two and laid out the plans for the government’s current family hub and Start for Life efforts

Dame Andrea has also run for leadership of the Conservative party twice. In 2016, she was among the final two candidates, but pulled out of the running, leaving Theresa May to be appointed prime minister. Her 2019 bid was less successful, failing to gain enough backing to make it past the first round

Meanwhile, Mr Stephenson, MP for Pendle since 2010, has held various ministerial posts since 2017. These included the housing and communities minister, minister for Africa, and transport minister, where his portfolio included HS2. He was most recently a government whip.

He has volunteered as a community first responder with North West Ambulance Service since 2014 and was a volunteer vaccinator during the covid-19 pandemic. He has also experienced his own serious health problems – an advanced form of appendicitis in 2014 and having his gallbladder removed in 2016

Although portfolios for Mr Stephenson and Dame Andrea have not yet been published on the DHSC website, Mr Quince’s portfolio included secondary care (with the exception of urgent and emergency care, which care minister Helen Whately is responsible for) and workforce. Mr O’Brien’s portfolio included primary care, the work of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, and the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry

Other ministers in the department are Ms Whately, mental health and women’s health minister Maria Caulfield, and the health minister in the House of Lords Lord Markham.