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New Scottish health secretary appointed as predecessor takes top job

Former Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf has been appointed as the country’s new first minister, after former leader Nicola Sturgeon stepped down from the role.

The Scottish government announced on Tuesday (March 28) that Mr Yousaf had been selected to become leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister of Scotland.

It yesterday revealed his new cabinet, including new secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care Michael Matheson.

Read more: ‘Massive Achievement’: Pharmacy First service hits 3m consultations

Mr Matheson will take over the role from the new first minister, who held the position from May 2021 until this month.

Women make up the “majority” of the new cabinet of ten “for the first time ever”, which also includes five members aged under 40, the government said.


“Protect and reform” NHS


Mr Yousaf said that protecting Scottish people from the “harm that has been inflicted by the cost-of-living crisis” will be a “key priority” for his government.

“We will protect and we will reform our NHS and social care and other vital public services – to support our wellbeing economy to improve the life chances of people right across our country,” he added.

And Mr Yousaf said it is a “really proud day” for him and his family, as well as the country as a whole, as he takes up the role as “the first ever Muslim to lead a western democratic nation”.


CPS: “Constructive relationship”


Director of operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) Matt Barclay told C+D that Mr Yousaf “should have an understanding of the challenges” facing the sector since he previously held the health secretary role.

He pointed out that the presence of “NHS recovery” in the title of Mr Yousaf’s successor suggests there is “an emphasis on the challenges that the NHS in Scotland faces”, such as in community pharmacy.

CPS is hopeful that “health is a significant part of the agenda”, he said, adding that Mr Matheson is an “an experienced cabinet minister who we’ve engaged with in the past”.

Read more: Temporary pharmacy closures: PDA urges Scottish health minister to act

“We hope that we can have a constructive relationship with the new cabinet secretary for health as well,” Mr Barclay told C+D.

“Dialogue with our immediate Scottish government colleagues has always been constructive and positive and I think we had good engagement with Humza earlier this year so we’re looking to keep that going because there are significant challenges in the sector,” he said.


RPS: Pharmacy has “a huge amount to offer”


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland congratulated Mr Matheson on his appointment, stressing that NHS recovery is “vitally important” and that pharmacy “has a huge amount to offer this agenda”.

RPS Scotland director Laura Wilson said that the organisation’s “current priorities” include “enabling pharmacists to take leadership of prescribing in all care settings, tackling health inequalities and advocating for change”.

Read more: Former community pharmacist appointed RPS Scotland director

Also priorities are “implementing shared patient records between healthcare professionals to provide high-quality, person-centred and safe patient care, improving pharmacists’ wellbeing and tackling the climate emergency by encouraging sustainable and green prescribing across Scotland”, she added.

“I look forward to working with Michael Matheson in his new role to advance all of these issues, for the benefit of pharmacists, patients and our environment,” she said.

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