The man behind the controversial Health and Social Care Bill has been removed from his role as head of the Department of Health in a major Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Andrew Lansley drew widespread criticism from groups including the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives and the Brtish Medical Association over proposals including giving GPs control of much of the NHS budget and opening up the health service to greater competition from the private and voluntary sector from April 2013.

Lansley will be replaced by former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who has described his new role as "the biggest privilege of my life".

With Lansley's bill having gained Royal Assent in March 2012 Hunt will now be charged with getting all healthcare groups 'on-board' with the reforms as a new NHS Commissioning Board begin work next month, and by April large parts of the budget will be managed by GP-led groups.

His appointment has gained mixed reactions, with several critics pointing to Hunt's ties with the Murdoch family and his examination during the Leveson Inquiry as potential problems in his new role.

On hearing the news Dr Kailash Chand, the deputy chair of the BMA, wrote on Twitter that "disaster in [the] NHS carries on".

However, the RCN's Dr Peter Carter has "welcomed" the replacement of Lansley and said: "We [RCN] are looking forward to work with incoming Jeremy Hunt to ensure that the nursing voice is heard". 

Posted 04/09/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com