New Health Minister appointed
Lagan Valley MLA, Edwin Poots, has been appointed Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The Democratic Unionist Party member will hold the role for two years before it is taken over by Jim Wells MLA (South Down). Mr Poots will be supported in his new role by Alex Easton MLA (North Down) who will serve as an Assembly Private Secretary in the Department.
Speaking on his first day as Minister, Mr Poots said; “Our Health Service faces great challenges over the coming years. We do face major budget issues over the next few years but that will not stop me doing what is right. I will not shy away from the tough decisions that need to be made to ensure that the Health Service provides for every single person who needs it.
“My priority is to protect front-line services to ensure everyone has access to the best life-long health care possible and to keep Health and Social Care Services at the top of the agenda of our new Executive.
“However, we all have a role to play. It is as important to keep people healthy and out of hospital as it is to ensure that those who are in hospital are treated with the best care available. Everyone has a responsibility to their own health. By simply eating the right foods and exercising properly many of us can reduce our reliance on the Health Service.”
The Minister added: “It is a privilege for me to hold this role and I would like to pay tribute to all staff in the Health and Social Care sector for their tireless and selfless work. Together, we have a job to do and together, we have the best chance of success.”
Edwin Poots was first elected to serve the constituency of Lagan Valley in the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 and was returned as an MLA in 2003.
In May 2007 Mr Poots was appointed as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure within the Executive.
In a DUP reshuffle in 2008, Mr Poots took up positions on the Education and Agriculture and Rural Development Committees. In Peter Robinson’s second reshuffle in July 2009, he returned to the Executive table as Environment Minister and was credited with undertaking more engagement with the renewal energy
Mr Poots topped the poll in his Lagan Valley constituency for the Assembly Elections in May 2011 with 7,329 first preference votes and was elected on the first count.
On 16 May 2011, he was nominated by Party Leader Peter Robinson as Minister for Health Social Services and Public Safety, supported by party colleague Alex Easton MLA (North Down) who will serve as his Assembly Private Secretary. Mr Poots will hold this role for two years, before Jim Wells MLA (South Down) takes over for the remaining two years.
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