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Monday 26 June 2017

Two new faces at the Department of Health

By MiP

While Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, and health ministers Philip Dunne and Lord O’Shaughnessy kept their jobs, two new junior health ministers were appointed to replace Nicola Blackwood and David Mowatt, who both lost their seats in the general election.

Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock
Jackie Doyle-Price

Doyle-Price, 47, becomes a junior health minister after serving two years as an assistant government whip. The MP for Thurrock in Essex has a wafer-thin majority of 345, so won’t want to make herself any more unpopular than necessary.

She will have to tread carefully with GPs, whom she has criticised in the past. On her website, Doyle-Price blamed GP shortages on GPs “not delivering enough” and has said that practices should “take responsibility” for matching staffing levels to patient demand – provided “they get the money to so so”.

During her 2017 campaign Doyle-Price backed the controversial closure of la local minor injuries unit and sale of land at nearby Orsett Hospital. “NHS trusts should be free to sell land if they want – that’s exactly what’s going to happen with regard to Orsett Hospital,” she told a hustings meeting in the constituency.

Steve Brine

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester

Unlike other recent appointments at the DH, Brine, 43, has some experience of the health brief: he served as Jeremy Hunt’s PPS (unpaid assistant) for a year after the 2015 election. A former radio journalist and business consultant, the Spurs-supporting MP for Winchester enjoys a comfortable 10,000 majority over the Liberal Democrats.

Locally, he is known for being heavily involved in the NHS, chairing a number of public meetings and taking part in ‘Ask the NHS’ sessions. He has also taken an usually close interest in his local STP – Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – and has been vocal in calling for wider public involvement.

In 2015, Brine warned his constituents that “consumerism” posed a significant threat to the NHS. “We are raising expectations so much around the National Health Service and our health professionals are buckling under the pressure of that expectation,” he said.

For more, read our post-election analysis and checklist of Conservative manifesto promises.

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