Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, East Sussex, has been confirmed as health minister for patient safety and primary care at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), taking on responsibility for community pharmacy.
Caulfield’s appointment follows a government reshuffle, which initially saw the pharmacy remit given to Maggie Throup, MP for Erewash, Derbyshire, on 16 September 2021.
However, the DHSC told the Pharmaceutical Journal on 23 September 2021 that the ministerial portfolios had still been “under discussion” at the time and confirmed Caulfield’s appointment as primary care minister.
In her new role, Caulfield will also have the responsibility of tackling ‘long COVID’, community health and maternity care.
She became the MP for Lewes in the 2015 general election, was made vice-chair of the Conservative Party in 2018 and held the position of assistant whip from December 2019 to September 2021. Caulfield has a limited voting record on health issues, but voted in favour of leaving the EU in 2016.
On a podcast by the National Pharmacy Association, she said that community pharmacies were “crucial” in supporting the NHS going forward after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has really opened people’s eyes about the value of community pharmacists and the role they do. They are the unsung heroes in community healthcare,” she added.
Prior to the reshuffle, the responsibility for pharmacy was held by Jo Churchill from August 2019, who has moved to be parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Steve Brine held the role from June 2017 until March 2019, but resigned to vote against a government three-line whip on Brexit. Brine was succeeded by Seema Kennedy, who was in post from April 2019 until July 2019.