Published: 15/08/2002, Volume III, No. 5818 Page 9

Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Name: Frank Dobson Job: MP for Holborn and St Pancras Style: Old Labour with a beard; 'a loud, proud, rumbustious bruiser'. It all went a bit quiet for Dobbo after his sad candidature for London mayor, but he is bouncing back to lead Labour opposition to foundation trusts.And as 'a seasoned backroom operator'whose bluff Yorkshire manner is combined with a sharp intelligence, he should not be underestimated.

Guess whether it was Dobbo or his successor, Big Al, who said, 'the development of private medicine feeds like a filthy, stinking parasite on the health service'.His health secretary stint saw a pledge to 'undo the damage the market has created', a crackdown on NHS use of private beds and a refusal to bring private hospitals under the CHI umbrella.Famously keeps his Camden council flat.

Background: Elected to Camden council in 1971; leader in 1973.Resigned in 1975 to become assistant secretary to the Local Government Ombudsman.Won his seat in 1979. Labour's health spokesman from 198587.

After a shift to the environment portfolio was an unexpected appointment as health secretary in 1997.

Eventually persuaded to quit 'the one job I loved' in 1999 to stand as Labour's 'Stop Ken' candidate for London Mayor, making way for thoroughly modern Mr Milburn.

Future prospects: Expect to hear far more from Dobbo when foundation trusts legislation hits the Commons, and a much higher profile on the backbenches.

See politics, page 19.