Chair, House of Commons health committee (2010 ranking: 5)
Everybody’s fantasy health secretary, Mr Dorrell is unlikely to return to frontbench politics in the near future. However, this does not mean the former cabinet minister is not interested in making an impact - he is and has.
Robert Francis QC may take the laurel as 2012’s leading inquisitor, but it is the health committee chair who is likely to win that prize over this parliament. It was Mr Dorrell’s calm, informed, forensic and incisive critique of Andrew Lansley’s health reforms that - along with professional and Lib Dem unrest - sowed the seeds of doubt with Downing Street and led to the “pausing” of the Health Bill.
He examined the reforms from a progressive conservative standpoint - making his views hard to dismiss. His easily understood, credible presentation of the issues was also in stark contrast to the technobabble of which the health secretary is too often guilty. When, for example, the former health secretary admonished the DH over the confusion surrounding public health funding, by saying it had been “ill advised” to “put a number into the public domain” without an accurate definition of what it represented, he cut straight to the heart of an important aspect of these convoluted reforms.
Just as impressive has been Mr Dorrell’s ability to shape the debate. The committee’s report on clinical commissioning and recommendations on speeding the integration of health and social care have been influential.
In 2012, Mr Dorrell will turn his attention to long term care funding, as well as monitoring the progress of the health reforms and QIPP agenda. Despite being Sir David Nicholson’s biggest fan, he will want to ensure the NHS chief executive is up to the challenge that Mr Dorrell named after him.