Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

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Secretary of State
for Health and Social Care
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Official portrait of Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP.jpg
Sajid Javid

since 26 June 2021
Department of Health and Social Care
StyleThe Right Honourable
(UK and the Commonwealth)
Member of
Reports toPrime Minister of the United Kingdom
AppointerThe Crown
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Formation14 October 1854
First holderSir Benjamin Hall
Salary£143,552 (including salary as MP) Edit this at Wikidata

The secretary of state for health and social care, also referred to as the health secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for the work of the Department of Health and Social Care.[1] The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, eighth in the ministerial ranking.[2]

The position can trace its roots back to the nineteenth century, and has been a secretary of state position since 1968. For 30 years, from 1988 to 2018, the position was titled Secretary of State for Health, before Prime Minister Theresa May added "and Social Care" to the designation in the 2018 British cabinet reshuffle.[3]

The current secretary of state for health and social care is Sajid Javid, who was appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June 2021.


Corresponding to what is generally known as a health minister in many other countries, the health secretary's remit includes the following:

  • Oversight of England's National Health Service, including:
    • Delivery of care
    • Performance
    • Financial management[4]
  • Matters concerning England's social care policy (although responsibility is shared with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government in respect of adult social care, and the Department for Education in respect of children's social care).
  • Matters concerning England's national public health
  • Relations with international health partnerships (WHO)


The first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated 21 June, 14 November and 21 November 1831. In 1848, a General Board of Health was created with lay members as its leadership[5] and the first commissioner of woods and forests as its president. In 1854, this board was reconstituted and the president appointed separately. However, the board was abolished in 1858 and its function of overseeing the local boards was transferred to a new Local Government Act Office within the Home Office. From 1871, that function was transferred to the new Local Government Board.

The Ministry of Health was created in by the Ministry of Health Act 1919 as a reconstruction of the Local Government Board. Local government functions were eventually transferred to the minister of housing and local government, leaving the Health Ministry in charge of Health proper.

From 1968, it was amalgamated with the Ministry of Social Security under the secretary of state for social services, until a de-merger of the Department of Health and Social Security on 25 July 1988.

Since devolution in 1999, the position holder's responsibility for the NHS is mainly restricted to the health service in England, with the holder's counterparts in Scotland and Wales responsible for the NHS in Scotland and Wales. Prior to devolution, the secretaries of state for Scotland and Wales had those respective responsibilities, but the Department of Health had a larger role than now in the co-ordination of health policy across Great Britain. Health services in Northern Ireland have always had separate arrangements from the rest of the UK, and are currently the responsibility of the health minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.

A small number of health issues remain reserved matters, that is, they are not devolved.

List of ministers[edit]

Colour key (for political parties):
  Whig   Conservative   Radical   Peelite   Liberal   Labour   Unionist   National Labour   National Liberal

President of the Board of Health (1848–1858)[edit]

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
As First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Lord John Russell
The Earl of Carlisle 7th Earl of Carlisle-edit.jpg 1848 17 April 1849 Whig
Lord Seymour
MP for Totnes
12th Duke of Somerset.png 17 April 1849 1 August 1851 Whig
As First Commissioner of Works
Lord Seymour
MP for Totnes
12th Duke of Somerset.png 1 August 1851 21 February 1852 Whig
Lord John Manners
MP for Colchester
Lord John Manners.jpg 4 March 1852 17 December 1852 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Sir William Molesworth, Bt
MP for Southwark
WilliamMolesworth.jpg 5 January 1853 14 October 1854 Radical The Earl of Aberdeen
President of the Board of Health
Sir Benjamin Hall, Bt
MP for Marylebone
Sir Benjamin Hall, Bt.jpg 14 October 1854 13 August 1855 Whig
The Viscount Palmerston
William Cowper
MP for Hertford
William Cowper-Temple, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-85.jpg 13 August 1855 9 February 1857 Whig
William Monsell
MP for County Limerick
William Monsell, Lord Emly.jpg 9 February 1857 24 September 1857 Whig
William Cowper
MP for Hertford
William Cowper-Temple, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-85.jpg 24 September 1857 21 February 1858 Whig
Charles Adderley
MP for Staffordshire Northern
Charles Bowyer Adderley, Lord Norton.jpg 8 March 1858 1 September 1858 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Board of Health abolished in 1858; responsibilities transferred to
the Privy Council (1858–1871), then the Local Government Board (1871–1919).

Minister of Health (1919–1968)[edit]

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Dr Christopher Addison
MP for Shoreditch
Dr. Christopher Addison LOC 16027831872 (cropped).jpg 24 June 1919 1 April 1921 Liberal David Lloyd George
Sir Alfred Mond, Bt
MP for Swansea West
Alfred Mond.jpg 1 April 1921 19 October 1922 Liberal
Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen
MP for Taunton
Arthur Griffith-Boscawen Westminster1899.jpg 24 October 1922 7 March 1923
(Lost seat 1922)
Conservative Bonar Law
Neville Chamberlain
MP for Birmingham Ladywood
Chamberlain Neville.jpg 7 March 1923 27 August 1923 Conservative
Stanley Baldwin
Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Bt
MP for Twickenham
1st Viscount Brentford 1923.jpg 27 August 1923 22 January 1924 Conservative
John Wheatley
MP for Glasgow Shettleston
John Wheatley MP.jpg 22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain
MP for Birmingham Ladywood then Birmingham Edgbaston
Chamberlain Neville.jpg 6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Arthur Greenwood
MP for Nelson and Colne
ArthurHGreenwood.jpg 7 June 1929 24 August 1931 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain
MP for Birmingham Edgbaston
Chamberlain Neville.jpg 25 August 1931 5 November 1931 Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(1st National Min.;
2nd National Min.)
Sir Hilton Young
MP for Sevenoaks
Edward Hilton Young.jpg 5 November 1931 7 June 1935 Conservative
Sir Kingsley Wood
MP for Woolwich West
Kingsley Wood cropped.jpg 7 June 1935 16 May 1938 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
(3rd National Min.)
Neville Chamberlain
(4th National Min.;
War Coalition)
Dr Walter Elliot
MP for Glasgow Kelvingrove
Walter Elliott MP.jpg 16 May 1938 13 May 1940 Unionist
Malcolm MacDonald
MP for Ross and Cromarty
Malcolmmacdonald.jpg 13 May 1940 8 February 1941 National Labour Winston Churchill
(War Coalition;
Caretaker Min.)
Ernest Brown
MP for Leith
BrownErnest.jpg 8 February 1941 11 November 1943 National Liberal
Henry Willink
MP for Croydon North
Henry Willink.jpg 11 November 1943 26 July 1945 Conservative
Aneurin Bevan
MP for Ebbw Vale
Aneurin Bevan (crop).jpg 3 August 1945 17 January 1951 Labour Clement Attlee
Hilary Marquand
MP for Middlesbrough East
Hilary Marquand.png 17 January 1951 26 October 1951 Labour
Harry Crookshank
MP for Gainsborough
Harrycrookshank.jpg 30 October 1951 7 May 1952 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
Iain Macleod
MP for Enfield West
The National Archives UK - CO 1069-166-17 Macleod crop.jpg 7 May 1952 20 December 1955 Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Robin Turton
MP for Thirsk and Malton
No image.svg 20 December 1955 16 January 1957 Conservative
Dennis Vosper
MP for Runcorn
No image.svg 16 January 1957 17 September 1957 Conservative Harold Macmillan
Derek Walker-Smith
MP for East Hertfordshire
No image.svg 17 September 1957 27 July 1960 Conservative
Enoch Powell
MP for Wolverhampton South West
Enoch Powell Allan Warren.jpg 27 July 1960 20 October 1963 Conservative
Anthony Barber
MP for Doncaster then Altrincham and Sale
No image.svg 20 October 1963 16 October 1964 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Kenneth Robinson
MP for St. Pancras North
No image.svg 18 October 1964 1 November 1968 Labour Harold Wilson
Post merged with Ministry for Social Security in 1968.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Services (1968–1988)[edit]

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Richard Crossman
MP for Coventry East
Crossland MP.jpg 1 November 1968 19 June 1970 Labour Harold Wilson
Sir Keith Joseph
MP for Leeds North East
No image.svg 20 June 1970 4 March 1974 Conservative Edward Heath
Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
Mme Barbara Castle, Ministre britannique du développement outre-mer.jpg 5 March 1974 8 April 1976 Labour Harold Wilson
David Ennals
MP for Norwich North
David Ennals.jpg 8 April 1976 4 May 1979 Labour James Callaghan
Patrick Jenkin
MP for Wanstead and Woodford
No image.svg 5 May 1979 14 September 1981 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Norman Fowler
MP for Sutton Coldfield
Official portrait of Lord Fowler crop 2.jpg 14 September 1981 13 June 1987 Conservative
John Moore
MP for Croydon Central
Mr John Moore M.P. addressing the Annual LSE Society Dinner, 5th June, 1985.jpg 13 June 1987 25 July 1988 Conservative
Post split into Secretary of State for Social Security and Secretary of State for Health in 1988.

Secretary of State for Health (1988–2018)[edit]

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Kenneth Clarke
MP for Rushcliffe
Ken Clarke 2010.jpg 25 July 1988 2 November 1990 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
William Waldegrave
MP for Bristol West
Official portrait of Lord Waldegrave of North Hill 2020 crop 2.jpg 2 November 1990 10 April 1992 Conservative
John Major
Virginia Bottomley
MP for South West Surrey
Official portrait of Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone crop 2.jpg 10 April 1992 5 July 1995 Conservative
Stephen Dorrell
MP for Loughborough then Charnwood
Stephen dorrell mp -nhs confederation annual conferencepercent2c manchester-11july2011 - crop.jpg 5 July 1995 2 May 1997 Conservative
Frank Dobson
MP for Holborn and St. Pancras
Frank Dobson MP, crop.jpg 3 May 1997 11 October 1999 Labour Tony Blair
Alan Milburn
MP for Darlington
Alan Milburn 2014.jpg 11 October 1999 13 June 2003 Labour
John Reid
MP for Hamilton North and Bellshill then Airdrie and Shotts
Official portrait of Lord Reid of Cardowan, 2020.jpg 13 June 2003 6 May 2005 Labour
Patricia Hewitt
MP for Leicester West
Patricia Hewitt.jpg 6 May 2005 28 June 2007 Labour
Alan Johnson
MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle
Alan Johnson MP.jpg 28 June 2007 5 June 2009 Labour Gordon Brown
Andy Burnham
MP for Leigh
Andy Burnham2.jpg 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour
Andrew Lansley
MP for South Cambridgeshire
Official portrait of Lord Lansley crop 2.jpg 11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative David Cameron
Jeremy Hunt
MP for South West Surrey
Official portrait of Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP crop 2.jpg 4 September 2012 8 January 2018 Conservative
David Cameron
Theresa May

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (2018–present)[edit]

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Jeremy Hunt
MP for South West Surrey
Official portrait of Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP crop 2.jpg 8 January 2018 9 July 2018 Conservative Theresa May


Matt Hancock
MP for West Suffolk
Official portrait of Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP crop 2.jpg 9 July 2018 26 June 2021 Conservative
Boris Johnson


Sajid Javid
MP for Bromsgrove
Official portrait of Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP crop 2.jpg 26 June 2021 Incumbent Conservative Boris Johnson



  1. ^ "Secretary of State for Health and Social Care". Retrieved 29 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Her Majesty's Government: The Cabinet". Retrieved 30 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Jeremy Hunt keeps Heath Secretary with added social care brief despite overseeing NHS 'winter crisis'". The Independent. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2021. Jeremy Hunt has kept his job as Health Secretary, despite overseeing what is widely viewed as a winter crisis in the NHS. However, Theresa May has added social care to his responsibilities, to signal her determination to sort out one of the biggest issues facing the country.
  4. ^ "Secretary of State for Health and Social Care - GOV.UK".
  5. ^ "4 Dec 1848, 5 - The Observer at". Retrieved 14 January 2022.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]