Sajid Javid replaces Matt Hancock as health secretary, Downing St confirms

26 June 2021, 19:52 | Updated: 27 June 2021, 10:45

Sajid Javid has been appointed as health secretary, replacing Matt Hancock
Sajid Javid has been appointed as health secretary, replacing Matt Hancock. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

Sajid Javid will replace Matt Hancock as health secretary.

Mr Javid will take over as health secretary following Matt Hancock's resignation earlier today.

Downing Street confirmed the appointment in a statement: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

Mr Javid tweeted that he was "honoured" to be offered the position and was looking forward to "contributing" to the country's coronavirus response.

Read more: Hancock quits as health secretary saying: “Those who make the rules have to stick by them”

Read more: 'He should have been sacked': MPs react to Hancock resignation

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt described Sajid Javid's appointment to the role as an "excellent choice".

Mr Hunt, now chairman of the Commons' Health Select Committee, tweeted: "I worked closely w/him 4 many years & found him smart, decent &(perhaps rarely in the trade) 100% full of integrity.

"Best poss news 4 social care:he 'gets it' from his time at DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) &as an ex-Chllr (Chancellor) will negotiate formidably with HMT (Her Majesty's Treasury)."

The Mayor of London has also spoken positively of Mr Javid's appointment.

Sadiq Khan, whose father, like Mr Javid's, was a bus driver, tweeted: "Always good to see the children of bus drivers do well! Congrats @sajidjavid on your appointment as Health Secretary.

"Look forward to working together to protect our communities from this awful pandemic, get London vaccinated and continue opening up our city and country safely."

Read more: David Lammy's merciless reaction to Matt Hancock's resignation

Read more: Hundreds of walk-in Covid-19 vaccine sites open in England this weekend

But the appointment has been treated with scepticism by Labour, with shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth criticising his performance as chancellor and saying he will need to "explain" how he will tackle some of the major problems facing the NHS.

"Sajid Javid failed to reverse the previous eight years of social care cuts or deliver the investment our NHS needed in his time as chancellor of the Exchequer," said Mr Ashworth.

"He now needs to explain how he will bring down sky high waiting lists, ensure people get the cancer care they need, get young people vital mental health support and crucially fix social care, which has suffered swingeing cuts under the Conservatives."

Read more: Matt Hancock's resignation letter in full

Read more: London protest: Crowds march through capital as part of weekend of demonstrations

Pat Cullen, acting general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, also agreed that Mr Javid has some significant work to do, particularly when it came to nursing staff.

"Sajid Javid must hit the ground running," said Ms Cullen.

"With the unrelenting pressure on the nursing workforce, their role in protecting the nation during the pandemic and role delivering the vaccination programme, we expect to meet with urgency.

"Javid's immediate priority must be tackling the shortage of nursing staff and paying them fairly for their highly-skilled and safety-critical work."

The announcement came hours after Mr Hancock resigned from his post in a letter to the prime minister Boris Johnson.

His resignation followed the publication of leaked footage showing him breaking social distancing rules by kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo.

“The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis," Mr Hancock wrote in his resignation letter.

“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this.

“I also need to be with my children at this time.

“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.”

His letter went on: “We didn’t get every decision right but I know people understand how hard it is to deal with the unknown, making the difficult trade-offs between freedom, prosperity and health that we have faced.

“I am so proud that Britain avoided the catastrophe of an overwhelmed NHS and that through foresight and brilliant science we have led the world in the vaccination effort.”

He added that it was the “honour of his life” to serve the PM as secretary of state and that he would continue to support Boris Johnson from the back benches.

Mr Hancock's resignation was welcomed by many MPs, but Boris Johnson has been criticised for not sacking him, something that the SNP's Ian Blackford said represented a "massive failure of leadership".

Mr Johnson said he was "sorry" to receive Matt Hancock's resignation as health secretary."

He said Mr Hancock "should leave office very proud of what you have achieved - not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us".

Mr Johnson added: "I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over."