Today (3 June 2014), a day before the Queen’s Speech marking the start of a new Parliamentary session, the Chair of the influential Health Select Committee, Stephen Dorrell MP, has stepped down with immediate effect.
Mr Dorrell said: “I have enjoyed doing the select committee. I believe we have made an important contribution on a cross-party basis to health policy through this parliament.”
“I’m primarily interested in the challenges facing the health and care system over the next five to ten years and the need for the system to change. These are issues that are better addressed outside the select committee context.”
The Health Select Committee itself has been seen by many to have played a vital role in holding the Government to account and has been a strong voice in challenging the NHS, which he believed was not willing to look at new ideas to improve care delivery.
His exit creates a vacancy on the Committee, which will be filled following a vote of Conservative MPs. The primary contenders for the post will be existing members of the Committee, including:
- Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West: A former public relations expert with an interest in education and sport
- Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole: Previously a teacher and councillor from Hull, he is a strong Eurosceptic
- David Tredinnick, MP for Bosworth: Parliament’s leading champion of complementary healthcare for more than twenty years
- Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes: A GP, with a background in pathology, elected following the first ever local primary and an outspoken critic of the Government’s health reforms as well as a number of other policies
Whoever the next Chair will be, this role is a vital one before the General Election. Currently the Committee is undertaking a number of inquiries into, for example, the Government’s Integrated Care Pioneers, the work of NHS England, the management of long-term conditions and the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. All of which could potentially be controversial depending on the Committee’s findings.