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Anne Milton tipped to take over as health secretary

Anne Milton, a trained nurse could be the next health minister in Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle 

Trained nurse Anne Milton has been named as a possibility to be the next health minister as prime minister Theresa May prepares to announce a cabinet reshuffle


Anne Milton. Picture: Lisa Payne

Current incumbent Jeremy Hunt is favourite to take over as first secretary of state despite the current NHS winter crisis.

Ms May is expected to change up to one quarter of her cabinet today and tomorrow, including promoting the longest ever-serving health secretary after Mr Hunt was appointed in 2012.

Labour said Ms May should focus on the pressures in the NHS rather than moving Mr Hunt.

More women in senior positions

Ms May was reported to be planning to promote more women to senior positions in the changes prompted by the firing of Damian Green as first secretary of state last month.

If Mr Hunt takes the more senior role he would deputise for Ms May at prime minister's questions and chair a host of influential cabinet sub-committees on Brexit.

'Betrayal of patients'

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Promoting the health secretary would be a betrayal of patients who deserve better this winter.”

Some nurses posting on social media about the potential change were hopeful that a health secretary with nursing experience would be a positive move for the profession and the NHS.  

But others pointed out that Ms Milton had voted against lifting the NHS pay cap and supported removing the nursing student bursary, and were not optimistic she would lead to any benefits for nursing.

One person on the Nursing Standard Facebook page commented that the next health secretary ‘needs to be someone with healthcare background to even understand a small amount about what is happening’.

But another stated: ‘Whoever we get will have the same agenda’.

Profile

Anne Milton spent 25 years working as an NHS nurse before becoming the MP for Guildford in 2005.

The mother-of-four trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London after going to school in West Sussex.

She then worked as a district nurse and developed pioneering palliative care in London.

Ms Milton worked as a hospital staff nurse, had a stint in research and, as a district nursing sister, pioneered an early discharge and support scheme for patients with cancer.

She told the Guardian that she later became the medical adviser for the East London and City health authority, and spent time as an RCN steward.

The 62-year-old says she became an MP as she felt there were insufficient politicians with a public sector background.

In a 2009 interview with the Guardian, she said:

‘ I do feel frontline experience of delivery of the public services is important, because that's where a lot of government money is spent and what a lot of public attention is on’

Currently minister for apprenticeships and skills at the Department for Education and minister for women, previous roles have included serving on the Health Select Committee, being deputy chief whip and shadow health minister.

While in parliament she has supported increasing university tuition fees, voted for reductions in spending on welfare benefits and voted against scrapping the NHS pay cap.


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