Andy Burnham has been appointed Secretary of State for Health as Alan Johnson moves to become Home Secretary in a cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Burnham, the MP for Leigh in Greater Manchester, was previously Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, a position he held from January 2008. Prior to this he was Health Minister for Delivery and Reform from 2006. He has also previously worked as a researcher for the NHS Confederation, in 1997.
Born in Liverpool, Mr Burnham was educated in Merseyside at St Aelred’s Roman Catholic High School and gained an MA in English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He is married with three children.
Ben Bradshaw, formerly a health minister with responsibility for primary care, replaces Mr Burnham as Culture Secretary. Mr Bradshaw’s replacement has yet to be appointed.
Commenting on the appointment of Mr Burnham, Niall Dickson, chief executive of healthcare think tank the King’s Fund, said: “It is frustrating to have another change at the top when Alan Johnson had been in post for less than two years. This move has nothing to do with what is best for the health service.
“However, if a change had to be made we welcome the choice of Andy Burnham. He has experience of the health system both as a minister and in his earlier career and he has shown he is committed to the NHS and to reform.”
Mr Dickson said that the new health secretary faces “major challenges”, including the promise of a green paper on the funding of social care and the issue of reform.
Mr Dickson said: “One thing we do know for certain is that demand for healthcare will rise, which means that the next two years will be a critical time when managers, doctors and nurses need to come together to redesign the way services are run.
“A test of the new secretary of state will be his ability to display strong leadership by supporting those who have to make these difficult decisions at a local level.”