Ministerial appointments in Scotland and Wales this week underlined the determination of devolved Labour administrations to break down barriers between health and social services.

In Scotland, Susan Deacon has been appointed health and community care minister in first minister Donald Dewar's Cabinet.

And in Wales, the health and social services brief went to former Cardiff Community trust non-executive director Jane Hutt. Former Welsh health minister Win Griffiths did not stand for election to the Assembly.

In Scotland, the coalition deal thrashed out between the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups in the Parliament promises 'distinctive solutions to the health problems of Scotland'.

The document, titled Partnership for Scotland, shows that there are very few differences between the two parties on health policy - and most of the detail was in Labour's election manifesto.

But the Lib Dems seem to have persuaded their partners to try to recruit more nurses through 'family-friendly' policies, while retreating from their opposition to the private finance initiative.

A commitment to the 'biggest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS in Scotland' includes plans, where appropriate, to use a mixture of private and public finance.

The document also promises to set up an independent Scottish inspectorate of health and social care and a team to cut across government departments to work towards improving public health.

The minister who will have to deliver all this is a political unknown. Ms Deacon, aged 34, is a former business consultant who failed to get through Labour's selection process at the first go, but appealed and found a seat in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh.

Although Labour failed to gain a majority in the 60-seat Welsh Assembly, first secretary Alan Michael intends to govern without a coalition, and last week named eight Labour Assembly members to his Cabinet.

Ms Hutt, who gave her first ministerial speech at the weekend to mental health charity Mind Cymru's conference, was director of the Chwarae Teg initiative, supporting women in the workforce in Wales.

She was also vice-chair of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and has served on a number of quangos, including the Wales New Deal task force and the New Opportunities Fund board.

In addition to Ms Hutt, the ministerial team includes former Gwent Healthcare trust chair Peter Law, who becomes environment minister, with responsibility for local government.

Before the elections, he promised to open up the public appointments system in Wales, telling HSJ: 'If I am elected I intend to scrutinise every public appointment.'

Rhodri Morgan, the shadow Welsh health minister before the 1997 general election who failed to get a job in Tony Blair's government, becomes economic development minister.