Stephen Dorrell has confirmed he has stepped down as chair of the Commons health committee and is leaving the scrutiny body with immediate effect.
Speaking to HSJ he said that he wanted to advocate “greater openness to new ideas” in health and social care policy, and that this would be easier to do from outside the committee.
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 former Conservative health secretary added that while he had been thinking about stepping down for a number of months, his decision was deliberately timed to come before the new session of parliament, which begins tomorrow.
He also voiced his frustration at what he believed was a health system not willing to look at new ideas to improve care delivery.
He said: “It’s very striking that the challenges facing health and care delivery in the UK are really very similar to the challenges facing equivalent systems in countries all across the world.
“There has been a tendency to think that because we have the NHS, our system is different…The needs of a dementia patient or a diabetes patient are the same whether they live in Liverpool, Frankfurt or Cincinnati.
“We need to be more open to new thoughts about how to deliver joined up care that focuses on enabling people to lead normal lives rather than waiting for them to be ill.”
Mr Dorrell ruled out trying to re-enter government in any post-election administration.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Conservative member of the committee said: “Stephen has been an outstanding chair because what you want in a select committee chair is someone who impartially going to be holding government and institutions to account.
“He has done that very effectively – he has managed to maintain a broad consensus.”
His exit creates a vacancy on the committee, which will be filled following a vote of Conservative MPs.