Sarah Wollaston has been elected as the new chair of the Commons health committee.

The Conservative MP for Totnes, who is a former GP, beat fellow doctor Phillip Lee in the vote.

The contest was triggered by Stephen Dorrell’s surprise decision to step down from the post earlier this month.

In the final vote count, Dr Wollaston received 226 votes to Dr Lee’s 195.

Accepting the appointment in the Commons chamber, Dr Wollaston paid tribute to Mr Dorrell’s service as chair.

She described the NHS as an “extraordinary achievement and an extraordinary challenge” and said her role would be to ask “challenging questions” about the health service. She also quoted NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens’ pledge to “think like a patient and act like a taxpayer”.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt offered his congratulations to Dr Wollaston on twitter and said she was an “excellent choice”.

Dr Wollaston has spoken out prominently in the past about the government’s health reforms and the impact of competition rules in the NHS, as well as mental health services, and called for reforms in the pharmaceutical industry. She has been a member of the committee since 2010, when she was elected to Parliament following an open candidate selection process in her constituency.

Only Conservatives were eligible to stand for the post because of an agreement between all parties on the division of committee chairships.