The Department of Health (DoH) is a department of the United Kingdom government but with responsibility for government policy for England alone on health, social care and the National Health Service (NHS). It is led by the Secretary of State for Health with two Ministers of State and three Parliamentary Under-Secretary of States.

The DoH carries out some of its work through "arm's length bodies", including executive agencies such as the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

In the rest of the United Kingdom, responsibility for health and the management of the NHS falls under the jurisdiction of the devolved governments of the other three constituent countries, namely:


The Department of Health was formally created in 1988, through The Transfer of Functions (Health and Social Security) Order 1988. Like many others, the department with responsibility for the nation's health has had different names and included other functions over time.[1]

In the 19th century, several bodies were formed for specific consultative duties and dissolved when they were no longer required. There were two incarnations of the Board of Health (in 1805 and 1831) and a General Board of Health (1854 to 1858) that reported directly into the Privy Council. Responsibility for health issues was also at times, and in part, vested in local health boards and, with the emergence of modern local government, with the Local Government Act Office, part of the Home Office. In the early part of the 20th century, medical assistance was provided through National Health Insurance Commissions.

The first body which could be called a department of government was the Ministry of Health, created in 1919 through the Ministry of Health Act, consolidating under a single authority the medical and public health functions of central government. The co-ordination of local medical services was expanded in connection with emergency and wartime services, from 1935 to 1945, and these developments culminated in the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948.

In 1968, the Ministry of Health was dissolved and its functions transferred (along with those of the similarly dissolved Ministry of Social Security) to the newly created Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS). Twenty years later, these functions were split back into two government departments, forming the Department of Social Security (DSS) and the current Department of Health.


The official headquarters and Ministerial offices are in Richmond House, Whitehall, London. Many staff are in Skipton House, Elephant and Castle, London and were formerly in Alexander Fleming House and Hannibal House there. There are also many staff based in Quarry House in Leeds, in Wellington House near Waterloo station in London and in New King's Beam House near Blackfriars Bridge.

Ministerial teamEdit

The current ministers at the DH are:.[2]

Permanent SecretaryEdit

The Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health was Sir Nigel Crisp from 2000 to 31 March 2006. Unlike his predecessors as permanent secretary, Sir Nigel Crisp was also Chief Executive of the NHS. Following his early resignation in March 2006, it was announced that the posts will be split. David Nicholson was appointed as Chief Executive of the NHS in September 2006. Hugh Taylor was appointed as the Permanent Secretary in December 2006 after serving as Acting Permanent Secretary following Sir Nigel Crisp's decision to retire.

Previous permanent secretaries:

Chief professional officersEdit

The department has six chief professional officers who provide it with expert knowledge and also advise the Ministers, other government departments and the Prime Minister. The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer are also directors of the department's board.

  • Chief Medical Officer for England (CMO) —Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, appointed in 1998.
  • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) — Christine Beasley CBE, appointed in 2004.
  • Chief Dental Officer for England (CDO) — Barry Cockcroft, appointed in 2006.
  • Chief Health Professions Officer (CHPO) — Karen Middleton, appointed in 2007.
  • Chief Pharmaceutical Officer — Dr Keith William Ridge, appointed in 2006.
  • Chief Scientific Officer — Professor Sue Hill, appointed in 2002.

Professional representation of psychologyEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. Health Departments. The National Archives. URL accessed on 2006-11-07.
  2. Department of Health Ministers

External linksEdit

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