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Secretary of State for Health

United Kingdom
Secretary of State for Health
Jeremy Hunt

since 4 September 2012
Department of Health
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer Elizabeth II
Inaugural holder Sir Benjamin Hall
Formation 14 October 1854
Website Department of Health
This article is part of a series on the
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Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Health is a UK cabinet position responsible for the Department of Health. Since devolution in 1999, the position holder's responsibility for the health service is mainly restricted to England, with the holder's counterparts in Scotland and Wales responsible for the NHS in those countries. 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.

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 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 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.


  • List of Ministers 1
    • President of the Board of Health (1848–1858) 1.1
    • Minister of Health (1919–1968) 1.2
    • Secretary of State for Health and Social Services (1968–1988) 1.3
    • Secretary of State for Health (1988–present) 1.4

List of Ministers

Colour key (for political parties):
      National Labour       National Liberal

President of the Board of Health (1848–1858)

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
As First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Lord John Russell
The Earl of Carlisle 1848 17 April 1849 Whig
Lord Seymour 17 April 1849 1 August 1851 Whig
As First Commissioner of Works
Lord Seymour 1 August 1851 21 February 1852 Whig
Lord John Manners 4 March 1852 17 December 1852 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Sir William Molesworth, Bt 5 January 1853 14 October 1854 Radical The Earl of Aberdeen
President of the Board of Health
Sir Benjamin Hall, Bt 14 October 1854 13 August 1855 Whig
William Cowper 13 August 1855 9 February 1857 Whig The Viscount Palmerston
William Monsell 9 February 1857 24 September 1857 Whig
William Cowper 24 September 1857 21 February 1858 Whig
Charles Adderley 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)

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Christopher Addison 24 June 1919 1 April 1921 Liberal David Lloyd George
Sir Alfred Mond, Bt 1 April 1921 19 October 1922 Liberal
Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen 24 October 1922 7 March 1923
(Lost seat 1922)
Conservative Andrew Bonar Law
Neville Chamberlain 7 March 1923 27 August 1923 Conservative
Stanley Baldwin
Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Bt 27 August 1923 22 January 1924 Conservative
John Wheatley 22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain 6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Arthur Greenwood 7 June 1929 24 August 1931 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain 25 August 1931 5 November 1931 Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(1st National Min.)
Sir Hilton Young 5 November 1931 7 June 1935 Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(2nd National Min.)
Kingsley Wood 7 June 1935 16 May 1938 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
(3rd National Min.)
Neville Chamberlain
(4th National Min.;
War Coalition)
Walter Elliot 16 May 1938 13 May 1940 Unionist
Malcolm MacDonald 13 May 1940 8 February 1941 National Labour Winston Churchill
(War Coalition)
Ernest Brown 8 February 1941 11 November 1943 National Liberal
Henry Willink 11 November 1943 26 July 1945 Conservative
Aneurin Bevan 3 August 1945 17 January 1951 Labour Clement Attlee
Hilary Marquand 17 January 1951 26 October 1951 Labour
Harry Crookshank 30 October 1951 7 May 1952 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
Iain Macleod 7 May 1952 20 December 1955 Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Robin Turton 20 December 1955 16 January 1957 Conservative
Dennis Vosper 16 January 1957 17 September 1957 Conservative Harold Macmillan
Derek Walker-Smith 17 September 1957 27 July 1960 Conservative
Enoch Powell 27 July 1960 20 October 1963 Conservative
Anthony Barber 20 October 1963 16 October 1964 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Kenneth Robinson 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)

Name Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Richard Crossman 1 November 1968 19 June 1970 Labour Harold Wilson
Sir Keith Joseph 20 June 1970 4 March 1974 Conservative Edward Heath
Barbara Castle 5 March 1974 8 April 1976 Labour Harold Wilson
David Ennals 8 April 1976 4 May 1979 Labour James Callaghan
Patrick Jenkin 5 May 1979 14 September 1981 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Norman Fowler 14 September 1981 13 June 1987 Conservative
John Moore 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–present)

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Kenneth Clarke 25 July 1988 2 November 1990 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
William Waldegrave 2 November 1990 10 April 1992 Conservative
John Major
Virginia Bottomley 10 April 1992 5 July 1995 Conservative
Stephen Dorrell 5 July 1995 2 May 1997 Conservative
Frank Dobson 3 May 1997 11 October 1999 Labour Tony Blair
Alan Milburn 11 October 1999 13 June 2003 Labour
John Reid 13 June 2003 6 May 2005 Labour
Patricia Hewitt 6 May 2005 27 June 2007 Labour
Alan Johnson 28 June 2007 5 June 2009 Labour Gordon Brown
Andy Burnham 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour
Andrew Lansley 11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative David Cameron
Jeremy Hunt 4 September 2012 Incumbent Conservative
David Cameron
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