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by Louise Wilson
22 December 2020
Mairi Gougeon appointed as public health minister


Mairi Gougeon appointed as public health minister

Mairi Gougeon has been appointed as the new public health minister, taking on oversight of the COVID-19 testing programme.

She is replacing Joe FitzPatrick, who resigned last week over a record number of drug deaths.

Ben Macpherson is taking on Gougeon’s old role as rural affairs minister, while his old portfolio has been divided and re-integrated with other portfolios.

Europe Minister Jenny Gilruth will now take responsibility for migration, while Trade Minister Ivan McKee will take on new budget and digital responsibilities.

Angela Constance was announced as the new drugs minister last week, though problem alcohol use remains the purview of the public health minister.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “At a crucial time for Scotland, these new appointments ensure that we have a ministerial team fully focused on tackling the many important challenges facing us.

“Mairi Gougeon has proven herself to be a highly effective rural affairs minister working with stakeholders, balancing competing interests and taking on difficult policy challenges. She will now be part of the team protecting and improving Scotland’s public health, and will play a key role in the pandemic, taking the lead on testing.”

As well as public health, Gougeon takes responsibility for sport, the Care Inspectorate, carers and sexual health.

She, Macpherson and Gilruth were all elected to parliament in 2016.

Gougeon and Macpherson became ministers in June 2018, while Gilruth joined the team in February 2020 as part of the reshuffle following the resignation of Derek Mackay.

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