Neil O’Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, Leicestershire, has been appointed as the new pharmacy minister.
O’Brien initially joined the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as a parliamentary under secretary of state on 7 September 2022, but has now been given the specific brief of primary care and public health, including pharmacy.
He takes over from Will Quince, who has been moved to the health and secondary care portfolio.
O’Brien is the fourth pharmacy minister of 2022. Maria Caulfield held the role from 17 September 2021 until 8 July 2022, and was then replaced by James Morris on 11 July 2022. Morris remained in post until Quince took over a month later, on 7 September 2022.
On 23 July 2019, O’Brien asked then secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock “what steps he is taking to increase the number of community pharmacies”, to which Jo Churchill, then pharmacy minister, responded that the government was “not actively looking to increase the number”.
O’Brien’s brief also includes the primary care workforce, prescription charges, antimicrobial resistance and working with the UK Health Security Agency on infectious diseases, including COVID-19, flu and monkeypox.