Tamara van Ark takes over as new Medical Care Minister

Tamara van Ark
Tamara van ArkPhoto: Rijksoverheid

King Willem-Alexander officially sworn in Tamara van Ark as Minister for Medical Care and Sports. Her former position as State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment will be taken over by Bas van 't Wout, who was also sworn in by the King on Thursday. Both are members of the VVD.

Van Ark is taking over from Martin van Rijn (PvdA), who held the position for three months after his predecessor Bruno Bruins had to step down due to exhaustion. On Wednesday, Van Ark thanked her predecessors Bruins and Van Rijn, saying that they "did a fantastic job of leading the Netherlands through a health crisis," according to NOS. She said that a main focus for her now will be to figure out what can be done better if there is a second wave of the coronavirus. 

Van Rijn joined the cabinet on a personal basis. It is highly unusual that a member of an opposition party is appointed to the cabinet, and in this case it happened due to the coronavirus crisis. Van Rijn has experience in the field, gained from his position as State Secretary of Public Health in the previous cabinet and working as a civil servant in the Ministry for years before that. He had to deal with a lack of protective equipment and an imminent shortage of ICU beds in the peak of the crisis.

At his farewell, Van Rijn said that this crisis is both a sprint and a marathon. "We are still in the marathon, but I am very confident that Tamara van Ark and the rest of the cabinet will run it to the end," he said. Van Rijn took the post of Minister on a temporary basis, just to get through the worst of the crisis. 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his appreciation for Van Rijn at the Council of Ministers on Friday. "Colleagues really appreciate what he did, how he jumped in in mid-March. And the contribution he made in controlling the coronavirus crisis as much as possible. And I also expressed by great appreciation there, my great thanks to Martin. Really special that when you call and say 'we need you', that the man says, 'okay, I'm coming'. Those are always beautiful moments."