A Look at Our New Health Ministers

Under our new PM’s cabinet, everyone in the medical community was very happy to see Jeremy Hunt return in his role as Secretary of State for Health. After all he’s done the impossible and united every health professional and student around one issue, namely the feeling that Jeremy Hunt has no really business being in charge of the NHS.

While our dear leader may not have changed, his underlings have. So say farewell to Ben Gummer (Hunt’s chief lackey), Jane Ellison, George Freeman and Alistair Burt. In come Phillip Dunne, Fiona Blackwood and David Mowat.

Nope, I’ve not heard of any of them either. Here’s a few titbits on each, as well as their voting record on major health bills.

 

Phillip Dunne (Minister of State for Care and Support; senior underling)

  • Voted against smoking bans
  • Didn’t vote on end-of-life assistance for the terminally ill
  • Voted for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks
  • Voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS
  • Voted for the Health and Social Care Act 2012

Dunne owns a farm for which he drew £15, 793 from last year. Clearly that’s going well for him. His previous job as the Ministry for Defence Procurement has gone decidedly less so, to the point where problems with defence procurement make nearly every issue of Private Eye. The latest issue points out that the UK has spent $4bn on 9 patrol aircraft when the US managed to get 12 for $2bn. Let’s hope he doesn’t bring this kind of deal making to the cash-strapped Department of Health.

Additionally, Dunne went to Eton and Oxford so it’s good to see that underrepresented demographic get a chance in politics.

 

Nicola Blackwood (Undersecretary of State for Health Services)

  • Voted for smoking bans
  • Voted against end-of-life assistance for the terminally ill
  • Voted for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks
  • Voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS
  • Voted for the Health and Social Care Act 2012

Blackwood has longtime experience as a patient in the NHS. Her childhood chronic fatigue syndrome meant she was home schooled for GCSEs and A-levels where she did well enough to go to Oxford. She has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural tachycardia syndrome secondary so stays in regular contact with health professionals, which should help her ear close to the ground. Her fellow MPs thought well enough of her to elect her as Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Commitee in June 2015.

Less happily, she was part of the Tory rebellion in 2012 that killed off House of Lords reform. In  non-health matters, she voted against gay marriage and wants to repeal the ban on fox-hunting, so she’s not the most socially liberal MP out there.

 

David Mowat (Undersecretary of State for Public Health)

  • Voted for and against smoking bans
  • Has never voted on end-of-life assistance for the terminally ill
  • Voted for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks
  • Voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS
  • Voted for the Health and Social Care Act 2012

The only non-Oxbridge minister in the DoH, Mowat is a chartered accountant by trade. This should help him get along with the head of the Care Quality Commission, Peter Wyman, who was a beancounter for PricewaterhouseCoopers until 2010.

Mowat rarely rebelled against his party but one of the only times he did was voting against making it clear that sex-selective abortion is illegal, which is an interesting position to hold to say the least.

Aside from this the most interesting fact about Mowat appears to be that he is one of 7 government ministers called David. Depressingly, there are more ministers called David than there are from ethnic minorities. Hooray for diversification.