Two health ministers have been appointed to join health secretary Andrew Lansley at the Department of Health.
The appointment of Conservative Simon Burns and Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow suggests there may not be a ministerial place for Conservative Stephen O’Brien or Lib Dem Norman Lamb, who both shadowed health in opposition.
However, the junior ministerial posts – and the details of the briefs that the two ministers will hold – have yet to be announced.
Burns and Burstow both have an interest in health and social care issues. Burns was briefly a member of the last Conservative administration, holding a post as a junior health minister from 1996-7.
At the time, the DH was focused on bolstering primary and community care after the turmoil caused by the introduction of the internal market earlier in the decade.
Burstow shadowed older people and social services for the Liberal Democrats until 2003, when he took on the health brief, which he relinquished in 2005 to shadow London and then become the party’s chief whip.
Taken together, the appointments suggest the new government could be committed to taking forward the “care closer to home” agenda, and to breaking the log-jam on social care caused by the election.
They may also indicate that it is willing to take on the acute sector and foundation trusts.
Lansley, Burns and Burstow are all recorded by ePolitix as voting strongly against the establishment of foundation trusts; while Burstow headed a campaign in his constituency to “save” St Helier Hospital.