Steve Barclay has been appointed the new secretary of state for health and social care following the resignation of Sajid Javid on 5 July 2022.
Barclay moves from his role as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for the cabinet office.
From January to November 2018, Barclay worked as a minster of state at the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). He has also held ministerial roles in the Treasury, as well as working as secretary of state for exiting the EU. He is a qualified solicitor.
In a statement published by the DHSC on 5 July 2022, Barclay said: “It is an honour to take up the position of health and social care secretary. Our NHS and social care staff have showed us time and again — throughout the pandemic and beyond — what it means to work with compassion and dedication to transform lives.”
“This government is investing more than ever before in our NHS and care services to beat the COVID-19 backlogs, recruit 50,000 more nurses, reform social care and ensure patients across the country can access the care they need.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board, said she hoped the new health secretary would engage with pharmacy leaders on making the most of the health and care workforce to support the NHS recovery, including reducing health inequalities, managing the growing cost of long-term conditions and utilising the enhanced skills of pharmacist independent prescribers.
“With a ‘refresh’ of the ‘NHS long-term plan’ and the government’s [NHS] workforce plan expected later this year, these must support a more ambitious approach to advancing the clinical role of pharmacists across the NHS to better meet changing patient demand, backed by investment in pharmacy education and training,” she said.
Govind highlighted how Barclay’s predecessor, Sajid Javid, had recognised the “vital” role of community pharmacy and the potential of a ‘Pharmacy First’ to support patient access to care.
“I would urge the new health secretary to see this through to completion,” she continued.
Gareth Jones, director of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association, said the organisation would be in contact with Barclay to “offer the hand of partnership” for improving access to healthcare, addressing health inequalities and delivering excellent patient care.
“The same logic that led the previous health secretary to announce recently his support for a ‘Pharmacy First’ approach to primary care still applies today.
“Community pharmacy remains well positioned, given the right investment, to support the NHS recovery and take on clinical roles in urgent care, long-term conditions, medicines optimisation and prevention,” he added.
“We maintained a close and constructive dialogue with Sajid Javid and we hope that will continue with his successor.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said that the new health secretary “joins the department at a critical time as the NHS continues on the long path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“We see community pharmacy as being a vital element of plans for that recovery and know that we could do so much more, but only with appropriate funding,” she added.