A former senior economic planner has been confirmed as the Health Ministry's new party chief, injecting new blood into the embattled government department. The Communist Party's Central Committee confirmed media speculation by naming 55-year-old Zhang Mao, a former deputy minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as the Health Ministry's party secretary, officially second to Health Minister Chen Zhu. According to the ministry's website, Mr Zhang replaces Gao Qiang and is already referred to as the secretary of the ministry's party member panel. The statement said the personnel change was made after 'all-round and prudent consideration' which embodied the party's concerns about health care. It called on the ministry to 'deeply understand the party's intention' in the personnel change. The statement did not clarify the 'party's intention', but analysts suggested Mr Zhang's appointment reflected Beijing's deep worries about - and keenness to push ahead with - reforms to the country's health and medical system. Failures in the system are rising as a major factor stoking social discontent against the government. Beijing launched its market-oriented reform of the country's traditionally government-funded medical and health system in the late 1980s. But the changes have been criticised as delivering a more expensive medical system and worse services. Even the State Council's Development Research Centre said the experiment was a failure. The nomination decree announced by the party's Organisation Department, which is in charge of allotting jobs for senior party and government leaders, emphasised Mr Zhang's ample experience of China's medical and health system. It said Mr Zhang had followed and was involved in China's 20 years of medical reforms both as Beijing's deputy mayor before 2006 and as an NDRC deputy minister since then. The decree said Mr Zhang was suitable for the new post because he had done a great deal of 'fruitful' work in drafting and revising the latest medical reform programme, which would soon be enacted. Government sources said Mr Zhang's strong links to veteran generals and old revolutionaries, some of them still living, were a strong source of his political power. Analysts said that in addition to the faults of the old medical reform plans, the ambitions of Mr Zhang's predecessor, Mr Gao, were sunk by the formidable co-ordination challenges and compromises involved in accommodating vested interest groups. At 65, Mr Gao has reached the official retirement age, but he might be nominated to the deputy chairmanship of the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress, sources said.