The prime minister, Gordon Brown, has thanked the Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt, for her "outstanding contribution" to the government, as Mrs Hewitt announced her decision to step down from the frontline of government and accept a party political role.
In a letter released today, Mr Brown said that he wanted to "pay tribute to the progress that, as Secretary of State, you have made in reducing waiting times and driving forward reform in the health service".
He told Mrs Hewitt that she "should be justly proud of her achievements".
In her letter to Mr Brown, Mrs Hewitt congratulated the PM on his appointment, and expressed her gratitude "to you and Tony for appointing me to my first post in government as Economic Secretary to the Treasury".
But she added that she had decided "for personal reasons" to stand down from government, adding that while "I very much appreciate your offer for me to remain in cabinet, I feel that this is the right moment for me to give more time to my constituency and my family – something my family would say is long overdue!"