Andrea Leadsom has been appointed as health minister, with responsibility for pharmacy, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
Leadsom, a former candidate to be leader of the Conservative party and Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire since 2010, replaces Neil O’Brien.
She is the fifth pharmacy minister since 2022.
O’Brien announced on 13 November 2023 that he was stepping down from his ministerial role.
In a statement published on her website on 14 November 2023, Leadsom said she was “delighted to join DHSC as junior minister” and was looking forward to “supporting fabulous GPs, dentists and community pharmacists”.
“After three years as the government’s early years adviser, I will now have ministerial responsibility for the ‘Best Start for Life’ as well as the hugely important public health portfolio,” she added.
Leadsom’s previous ministerial roles have included secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs from 2016 to 2017, leader of the House of Commons from 2017 to 2019 and secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy from 2019 to 2020.
She was elected as Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010 and appointed as the government’s early years health adviser in July 2020.
Leadsom ran for leadership of the Conservative Party in 2016, eventually withdrawing from the contest when she became the sole opposition to Theresa May, who went on to become prime minister.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Community Pharmacy England (CPE), welcomed Leadsom to her new role, in a statement published on 15 November 2023.
“Having previously noted the incredible value of community pharmacies, we look forward to building on her support to work towards a sustainable future for the sector, discussing the way forward and implementation of the vision for community pharmacy,” Morrison said.
Morrison added that CPE would ensure that Leadsom was briefed on “the ongoing immense pressures facing community pharmacy teams, as well as their potential to play a greater role in the nation’s biggest healthcare challenges, given the right funding and capacity”.
The DHSC also announced on 14 November 2023 that Andrew Stephenson has been appointed as minister of state for health.
The new appointments at the DHSC follow a major cabinet reshuffle on 13 November 2023, in which Victoria Atkins was appointed as the new secretary of state for health and social care, replacing Steve Barclay.
James Davies, director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said he hoped the new health secretary would “build on the positive steps we have seen towards advancing the clinical role of pharmacists, including using the expertise of a new generation of pharmacist prescribers”.
“We saw a welcome commitment to pharmacy education and training in the NHS long-term workforce plan and it is vital this is backed by much-needed investment, alongside steps to improve retention,” he said.
“I would urge the health secretary to back our call for equal access to the learning support fund so that pharmacy students get the financial help they deserve.
“With a general election on the horizon, I hope health ministers can focus on delivering for health and care, including urgently bringing forward the long-awaited consultation on supervision legislation.”