The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health today (Thursday 28 June 2007).
The appointment is part of new prime minister Gordon Brown's dramatic cabinet reshuffle.
In a written statement to Parliament, the Prime Minister said that the cabinet changes would "sharpen the focus of central government" on the "new and very different challenges" that Britain will face.
Acting chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), Dr Sam Everington, said: "The new prime minister Gordon Brown says he wants change in the NHS. Doctors have the ideas to realise change, we see patients every day and we know what works and what doesn't.
"At our annual meeting this week doctors appealed for the government to work with them and listen to them.
"The appointment of a new health secretary provides an excellent opportunity for doctors and government to work together to improve patient care.
"The BMA looks forward to working with Alan Johnson and we will be seeking a meeting as soon as possible."
Niall Dickson, chief executive of healthcare think tank the King's Fund, said he expected that among the new Secretary of State's priorities would be an initiative to provide better access to primary care services at nights and weekends, as well as a "very welcome" attempt "to re-engage staff in NHS reforms at local level."
Mr Dickson said: "It is so important that Alan Johnson grasps the narrative of NHS reforms over the last ten years, and commits to build on them rather than embarking on further restructuring.
"He has a chance to address some of the areas where reform has not taken root, for example introducing incentives that reward good health outcomes and increased productivity."