The first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated June 21, November 14, and November 21, 1831. In 1848 a General Board of Health was created with the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests as its President. In 1854 this Board was reconstituted and the President appointed separately. However, the Board was abolished and its duties transferred the Privy Council by the Public Health Act 1858. From 1871 the Health powers were moved to the President of the Local Government Board.

The Ministry of Health was created in 1919 as a reconstruction of the Local Government Board. Local government functions were eventually transferred to the Minister of Housing and Local Government, leaving the Health Ministry in charge of Health proper. Since 1968 it has been amalgamated with the Ministry of Social Security.

The current Secretary of State for Health and Social Security is Milly Calvert.