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What nurses need to know about the new health secretary

With a background in finance, new health secretary Steve Barclay has limited experience of health and social care, apart from a ten-month stint as a health minister in 2018

With a background in finance, new health secretary Steve Barclay has limited experience of health and social care apart from a ten-month stint as a health minister in 2018

The new health and social care secretary Steve Barclay voted against protecting the title of ‘nurse’ in law , as well as moves to improve workforce planning in the NHS.

Mr Barclay was appointed health and social care secretary by Boris Johnson after Sajid Javid’s shock resignation from the role, and is already facing calls to address widespread nursing shortages.

With a background in finance, he has limited experience of

With a background in finance, new health secretary Steve Barclay has limited experience of health and social care apart from a ten-month stint as a health minister in 2018

New health and social care secretary Steve Barclay
New health and social care secretary Steve Barclay Picture: Alamy

The new health and social care secretary Steve Barclay voted against protecting the title of ‘nurse’ in law, as well as moves to improve workforce planning in the NHS.

Mr Barclay was appointed health and social care secretary by Boris Johnson after Sajid Javid’s shock resignation from the role, and is already facing calls to address widespread nursing shortages.

With a background in finance, he has limited experience of health and social care apart from a ten-month stint as a health minister in 2018, along with some local campaigns.

Mr Barclay said he was ‘delighted’ to take up the role and added: ‘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.’

Raised concerns about cuts to continuing professional development for nurses

Previously Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, he has also served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Brexit secretary.

Mr Barclay’s voting record shows he tends to vote with his party, including against amendments proposed by the House of Lords to the Health and Care Bill to make the government regularly publish workforce assessments of the numbers of nurses needed.

Last year he also voted against a new clause that would have seen the title ‘nurse’ protected in law.

He served as health minister from January to November 2018 during Theresa May’s government, where he raised concerns about cuts to continuing professional development for nurses.

He also set a goal of boosting the number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds working at senior levels in the NHS to match representation in the wider workforce by 2028.

Labour party greet new appointee as ‘shortest serving health secretary in history’

During Mr Barclay’s tenure, a last-ditch attempt by the RCN and others to save bursaries for postgraduate nursing students failed.

A qualified solicitor, he worked for the Financial Services Authority and was head of anti-money laundering at Barclays Bank before being elected MP for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010.

In 2015 he supported a local campaign for specialist dementia nurses to be introduced in his area to help reduce pressure on district nursing teams.

Labour greeted Mr Barclay’s appointment by congratulating him on becoming ‘the shortest serving health secretary in history’.


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