Hewitt avoids demotion by resigning

Patricia Hewitt has resigned as health secretary, avoiding the threat of being demoted in the imminent Cabinet reshuffle under new prime minister Gordon Brown.

Hewitt avoids demotion by resigning
Hewitt avoids demotion by resigning

Ms Hewitt had been widely tipped for a move out of the DoH, following two tumultuous years at the head of the NHS. She said that she wished to spend more time with her family and constituency.

In her resignation letter she claimed her successes as the forthcoming smoking ban and the 'difficult, but essential, work of bringing the NHS from deficit to surplus, consolidating essential reforms and establishing a fair and transparent financial system for the NHS'.

Mr Brown paid tribute to Ms Hewitt for 'reducing waiting times and driving forward reform in the health service'.

Her appointment in May 2005 was followed in July with the pronouncement that PCTs would no longer be allowed to provide services. The resulting chaos led to the DoH backtracking and Ms Hewitt having to apologise in parliament.

She later outraged GPs by stating that her first year in charge had been the 'best ever' for the NHS. Her suggestion that practices should hand quality pay to nurses was the first of a series of attacks on GPs that seriously damaged morale in the profession.

The widespread cost-cutting that followed to bring the NHS in to financial balance would have been Ms Hewitt's lasting legacy, had the final months of her tenure not been overshadowed by the junior doctors' recruitment fiasco.

What do think will be Patricia Hewitt's most lasting legacy? Who would you like to be the next health secretary? What farewell message would you like to send to Ms Hewitt?

Please add your comments below.

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