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Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt snags role as chancellor

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been appointed to replace Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor of the exchequer, No. 10 has confirmed.   

It comes after Mr Kwarteng was sacked by Prime Minister Liz Truss this morning (October 14).

Mr Hunt was the longest-serving health minister in UK history, after six years in the health secretary role, and has been the chair of the Commons health and social care select committee since 2020.

His time as health secretary was controversial. During his tenure, he was the architect of the 12% cut to the pharmacy funding budget in England in 2016, prompting pharmacy organisations to bring a case against the government to the High Court.

He was also health secretary when the scrapping of junior doctor’s overtime pay lead to multiple strikes from medical staff across the UK.

Mr Hunt took over as health secretary in 2012, replacing Andrew Lansley.

He left the post in 2018 to become foreign secretary and was succeeded by Matt Hancock.

 

History with pharmacy

 

Mr Hunt has twice tried unsuccessfully to become Conservative leader – once in 2019 and again earlier this summer

As chair of the health and social care select committee, he published a report in July calling for an “integrated and funded” pharmacy workforce plan to be developed and laid before parliament within the next year.

The pharmacy workforce plan should take into consideration that all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers by 2027, the report said.

These pharmacists should be given protected learning time, the right amount of supervision and opportunities to develop their careers, it recommended.

During his tenure as health secretary, Mr Hunt introduced a long-awaited defence against criminal prosecution for pharmacy professionals who make inadvertent dispensing errors, which became law in 2018.

A wider, albeit small, cabinet reshuffle earlier today also saw Chris Philp, chief secretary to the Treasury, also sacked from his role and moved to the Cabinet Office.

In a direct job swap, Mr Philp was replaced by Edward Argar, who served as health minister under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson from September 2019 until July 2022.

 

“Experienced and widely respected government minister”

 

Mr Kwarteng’s dismissal earlier today follows weeks of turmoil after his mini budget last month spooked the financial markets.

In a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Liz Truss admitted that it is now “clear that parts of our mini budget went further and faster than markets were expecting”.

She added: “Today, I have asked Jeremy Hunt to become the new chancellor. He is one of the most experienced and widely respected government ministers and parliamentarians, and he shares my convictions and ambitions for our country.”

Mr Hunt will “deliver the medium-term fiscal plan at the end of this month”, she noted.

Ms Truss pledged: “He will see through the support we are providing to help families and businesses, including our energy price guarantee that is protecting people from higher energy bills this winter.”

 

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