New National Party leader Judith Collins has replaced Michael Woodhouse with Shane Reti as the party’s spokesperson on health matters

Judith Collins is seeking to put the past week of privacy breach scandals behind her, appointing Whangarei MP Shane Reti as National’s new spokesperson on health and promoting him to the front bench.

Michael Woodhouse, who has held the health portfolio since shortly after Simon Bridges took over the reins of the National Party in March 2018, was stripped of the role by the new party leader. Late last week, after Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker was forced to drop out of the 2020 race for sending private details of Covid-19 patients to media outlets, Woodhouse revealed he too had been sent patient details by former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Woodhouse said he had not used the information, which he received in June, for any purposes but had deleted the emails after the Government announced an inquiry into the matter.

The privacy breach saga was the final straw and led to the surprise resignation of National’s leader Todd Muller on Tuesday morning.

Woodhouse will retain his other portfolios and become the party’s spokesperson for Pike River recovery and regional economic development.

Although Woodhouse was a former hospital executive, Reti also comes to the role with considerable health experience. The MP was a GP for 17 years and worked in health at Harvard University in the United States. Since the 2017 election, Reti has been National’s associate spokesperson for health.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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