Scotland's social security minister promoted to health secretary

Scotland's new health secretary to oversee 'largest pay rise for nurses in ten years'

Scotland's new health secretary to oversee 'largest pay rise for nurses in ten years'

Scotland has a new health secretary, Jeane Freeman, following the resignation of Shona Robison, who has held the role since 2016.

Jeane Freeman replaces Shona Robison as Scotland's new health secretary

Ms Robison quit her role in Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet conceding her position had been 'challenging at times'.


Ms Freeman is promoted from the post of social security minister and will now be responsible for overseeing the 'largest pay rise for nurses in ten years'.

In her resignation letter Ms Robison, a former public health minister, explained that she had reached a point in life where she 'would be best to step down from a role in government'.

She took on the role two years ago when Ms Sturgeon, her close friend, became first minister.

A failure to meet key NHS waiting times resulted in opposition politicians in the Scottish Parliament heaping pressure on her.

She had also faced calls to quit after financial problems in NHS Tayside – which includes her Dundee East constituency.

Health board chiefs in NHS Tayside used £3.6 million from its endowment fund, made up of donations from the public or bequests in wills, to help break even in 2013-2014.

Challenging year

Ms Robison wrote: 'This past year has been particularly challenging for me personally, losing both my parents, having a health scare of my own and some big changes in my personal life.'

She thanked Ms Sturgeon for her 'support during these difficult times'.

Jeane Freeman background

Ms Freeman is a former student member of the Communist Party who went on to become an adviser to former Labour first minister Jack McConnell.

As social security minister, Ms Freeman worked on the introduction of a new devolved benefit system for Scotland.

The first minister said while Ms Robison was no longer part of the cabinet, she would continue to seek her counsel 'as a colleague and a friend' and thanked her for her 'hard work in government'.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: 'In her role as cabinet secretary for Health, Shona Robison took steps to recognise the contribution of nursing and the need to increase the number of nursing staff in heath and care services. 

'We will be looking to work closely with the new Cabinet to progress the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill and to ensure Scotland has the nursing staff we need now and in the future.’

British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland chair Peter Bennie said the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol during Ms Robison's period as health secretary had been a 'key success' for the government.

Mr Bennie said the BMA look forward to working constructively with Ms Freeman.

He added: 'This is a challenging time for the NHS in Scotland and we need to see more substantive efforts to tackle the growing gap between resources and demand for services.'

The recent NHS pay deal offered by the Scottish Government of a 9% pay rise over the next three years is about to go out to consultation with union members.

In other news