Published: 07/11/2002, Volume II2, No. 5830 Page 17
Name: Tony Blair
Job: Prime minister
Style: Y'know: keen on big tents and third ways.
Critics say he stumbled on health a little late in the day: his first term was dogged by economic prudence and some of the government's earliest efforts - health action zones, anyone? - were rather low impact.But Labour's first term gave us the Commission for Health Improvement, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, and clinical governance - not to mention primary care groups and trusts.And where was the PM's hand in all this? There was that interview on Breakfast with Frost in January 2000 where he pledged to raise UK health spending to EU levels.The commitment led to the NHS plan in July 2000. Since then health has soared up the agenda - with record levels of investment.Recently, Mr Blair has shown a personal interest in foundation hospitals and taking on hospital consultants.
But his intervention in January 2001 in the Rose Addis affair (when a 94-year-old woman complained of ill-treatment at north London's Whittington Hospital) led to criticism about politicians bending patient confidentiality rules.
Background: Read law at Oxford; MP for Sedgefield 1983; opposition roles 1984-97.
Future prospects: After, despite the chancellor's best endeavours, a third term at Number 10, a jammy EU number: something on the international stage, perhaps?
See HSJ interview, pages 11-13.