Former GP elected chair of Commons health committee

Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston has been elected by fellow MPs to chair the influential House of Commons health select committee.

Dr Wollaston is the new chair of the health select committee (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Wollaston is the new chair of the health select committee (Photo: JH Lancy)

The member for Totnes in Devon beat fellow Conservative Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell), also a former GP, into second place with 226 votes to 195 in the final vote.

Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell (Con, Charnwood) stood down from the chairmanship after four years earlier this month.

After hearing the result of the election, Dr Wollaston thanked Mr Dorrell for everything he had done for patients by acting as their voice in parliament. ‘The NHS touches people’s lives a million times every 36 hours. It is the most extraordinary achievement and also the most extraordinary challenge,' she said.

She added: ‘The new chief executive of NHS England has called on everyone in the NHS to think like a patient and act like a taxpayer. The role of the select committee is to ask those challenging questions on behalf of patients and taxpayers so that this most cherished institution can continue to be there for all of our constituents when they need it the most.’

Dr Wollaston was an outspoken early critic of aspects of her party’s Health Bill. She likened the reforms to throwing ‘a grenade’ into PCTs and called key elements of the reforms ‘completely unrealistic’ and ‘doomed to fail’. She later admitted her outspoken language had lost her influence among senior party figures. 

Rules on party control of committee chairs meant only Conservative MPs could stand in the election. 

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