John Healey steps down as Labour's shadow health secretary

John Healey has stepped down as shadow health secretary prompting speculation that former health secretary Alan Johnson or Andy Burnham could now take over the role.

Resignation: who will replace John Healey as shadow health secretary?
Resignation: who will replace John Healey as shadow health secretary?

As the House of Lords prepares to debate the Health Bill next week, Mr Healey said he was stepping down for personal reasons and  to spend more time with his family before his son starts university.

Follow the progress of the Health Bill with our interactive NHS reforms timeline

In a letter to Ed Miliband, Mr Healey said it was a ‘big decision’ as he ‘relished the last year as shadow health secretary’ but he added it is ‘time for me to put my family first’.

He said: ‘Frontline bench politics makes great demands on us all, but even greater demands on our families. My family have accepted this for over a decade, and supported me throughout.  

‘But for now, I want to give them more during the last couple of years we have left while our son is still with us at home. It is time for me to put them first.’

Reports suggest Andy Burnham is favourite to take over the role, although Alan Johnson has also been tipped to return to the Cabinet. Full details of the reshuffle are expected later.

In reply to Mr Healey's letter of resignation Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mr Healey had served ‘tirelessly and with distinction’.

He said: ‘In holding David Cameron and Andrew Lansley to account you have not only spoken for the public in defending the NHS, but crucially you have built a broad coalition of support against the government’s plans amongst health professionals and bodies.

‘It is on this strong foundation that we will build in the coming months and years. And it is a record for which you should rightly be proud.’

Editor's blog: Who should replace John Healey as Labour's shadow health secretary?

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