Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 6

A career civil servant with a strong track record in implementing primary care policy has been appointed health policy adviser to the prime minister.

Ian Dodge, a former Department of Health head of general and personal medical services, replaces London School of Economics academic Professor Julian Le Grand at Number 10.

Mr Dodge, who does not officially take up his post until 27 June, told HSJ he saw himself as 'a civil servant on loan'.

'I am coming in as a civil servant rather than as a political adviser.

Obviously I am very pleased to be picking up the role and I am looking forward to working very closely with the department and my new colleagues at Number 10.' Mr Dodge was head of primary care contracting from 2001-04: 'I worked very closely with the NHS Confederation in developing the implementation of the general medical services contract. For the past year I have worked in the [DoH's] recovery and support unit, working closely with the strategic health authorities around the delivery agenda.' His career has also included stints as private secretary to two health ministers, John Denham and John Hutton.

Asked if his appointment signalled a shift of emphasis at Number 10 towards primary care, Mr Dodge said: 'I was appointed on the basis that I would be in a position to do a good job, and that means covering the full breadth of the health agenda.' NHS Confederation chief executive Dr Gill Morgan said she was looking forward to working with Mr Dodge in his new role: 'He worked with us on the GP contract side of things. He's very, very bright, and he was willing to go with some imaginative ideas.

'He understands primary care, [but] in the last year he has been working outside primary care and that has given [him] a view in the round. He can work at a strategic level and at a much more detailed level.' Mr Dodge's experience in implementing policy was welcome at a time when the NHS faced major challenges in service delivery:

'There is been an awful lot of changes in recent years. The issue [now] is making gains from the changes, ' said Dr Morgan.

She added that Professor Le Grand's 'greatest legacy' would be 'driving through practice-based commissioning and re-engaging clinicians much more in the commissioning process'.