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Public health minister finally announced

Stuart Spear29/06/2017 - 10:49

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Confusion over Steve Brine and Jackie Doyle Price
Confusion over Steve Brine and Jackie Doyle Price

Three weeks after the general election the DoH has finally announced that the new public health minister is to be Steve Brine MP Winchester & Chanders Ford.

Mr Brine is a former BBC local radio journalist and was elected to parliament in May 2010. In October 2013 he became parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Mike Penning, minister for disable people at the Department for Work and Pensions.

In May 2015 he was appointed PPS to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and in 2016 he became an assistant government whip.

Today’s announcement follows a period of uncertainty and speculation while the DoH failed to confirm who would be the new portfolio holder long after other positions had been announced.

The two possible candidates for the role were Mr Brine or Jackie Doyle-Price MP for Thurrock. Both are junior ministers at the DoH.

The previous public health minister Nicola Blackwood lost her seat in Oxford West and Abingdon leaving the vacancy.

Speculation as to who the new public health minister might be started when a week after the election the local paper for Ms Doyle-Price’s Thurrock constituency announced that the re-elected MP had been given the public health portfolio.

Ms Doyle-Price is quoted in the article saying ‘I am very pleased to have been appointed as a minister of public health. It is a wide-ranging portfolio and I look forward to being able to make a difference.’

The article carries a photo of Ms Doyle-Price gleefully shacking the hand of Theresa May.

A week later Duncan Selbie, head of Public Health England, wrote in his blog that he was ‘warmly welcoming’ Stephen Brine MP as the new minister of public health and primary care.  

The confusion over the appointment along with the time it has taken for DoH to announce the name of the minister may be a reflection of the extremely low priority public health was given in the Conservative manifesto.

The 88-page manifesto document fails to mention ‘public health’ at all, limiting its ambitions to increase preventive health care to a single line stating it would ‘continue to take action to reduce childhood obesity’ and promote efforts to reduce unhealthy ingredients.


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