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Hopes that health will be a major concern of the Greater London Assembly have been boosted by the selection of six candidates with health service backgrounds among the 14 announced by Labour to fight the constituency- based seats.

They include Helen Gordon, human resources director at University College London Hospitals trust, and Maggie Cosin, one of UCLH's non-executive directors, who helped set up the Camden and Islington health action zone. She believes that partnership will be a key theme in the work of the GLA, too: 'I believe these partnerships will play an active role.'

Another of the candidates is Maggie Mansell, a former senior NHS manager who, as a local councillor, helped start the Healthy Croydon partnership.

Helen Gordon has worked in the NHS since 1988, and has just been confirmed as human resources director for UCLH (see In Person). Ms Gordon draws a distinct line between her work as an NHS manager and her political work on health issues.

She believes the GLA will potentially have a 'key role in improving the healthcare of Londoners by improving public health and promoting the whole agenda about tackling the causes of inequalities'.

Maggie Mansell, who worked in the health service for 30 years, ending up as commissioning manager with West Surrey health authority, agrees.

She looks forward to working 'London-wide to tackle ill-health and inequalities' and to ensuring that factors that contribute to ill-health, such as transport, air pollution and employment problems, are part of the agenda for the new assembly.

Best-known candidate is Lord Harris of Haringey, the former director of the Association of Community Health Councils, associate director of the King's Fund and non-executive director of the London Ambulance Service trust. He says he supports the principle that London's elected mayor should have a 'strong public health role' and intends 'to continue to have an interest in health matters'.

The other candidates come from the consumer and watchdog end of the health service.

John Biggs is director of the Socialist Health Association, a ginger group affiliated to the Labour Party which dedicates itself to keeping the party on the true path of a comprehensive NHS, free at the point of use.

Charlie Mansell, a former Treasury civil servant and now the director of Sutton Regeneration Partnership, is a member of Merton and Sutton community health council.

Labour has yet to finalise its process for selecting 11 candidates for the 'top-up' seats on the GLA. Meanwhile, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are both 'in the process' of selecting candidates. The Conservatives expect to declare 'later this year' and the Lib Dems at the end of October.