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UPDATED: Victoria Atkins appointed health secretary as Steve Barclay ousted

Health secretary Steve Barclay has been moved to a new role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the government has announced.

Steve Barclay has been shuffled out of his role as health secretary today (November 13), according to the Prime Minister's office.

Mr Barclay will instead take up a post as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, replacing Thérèse Coffey, who he previously replaced as health minister.

Read more: UPDATED: Neil O’Brien quits as pharmacy minister to ‘focus 100%’ on constituency

Mr Barclay was re-appointed as health secretary in October last year. He had briefly served as health secretary for two months, from July 2022, after Sajid Javid resigned.

The Prime Minister's office today announced via X - formerly known as Twitter - that Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle Victoria Atkins has been appointed the new health secretary.


“Comes at a critical time”


Health and social care committee (HSCC) chair and former pharmacy minister Steve Brine today welcomed Ms Atkins appointment, saying that it “comes at a critical time for the NHS with the number of patients waiting for treatment at a record high”.

He added that preventing ill-health – one of the HSCC’s “priorities” - will be “key to helping the NHS manage its resources” and said that he hopes “it will be high up on the new secretary of state’s agenda too”.

Mr Brine thanked Mr Barclay for his work at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and “[wished] him well in his new role”.

Read more: Second chance for Steve Barclay as health sec after Thérèse Coffey ousted

Mr Barclay said today that he was “delighted” to be appointed as secretary of state at DEFRA, where he said he will “back British farming and fishing, champion rural communities [and] protect the environment”.

It comes as Neil O’Brien has resigned as minister responsible for primary care after one year in the role.

It remains unclear who will take on the pharmacy brief as his successor.

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