Health minister Lord Darzi has said the impact of his next stage review has “far exceeded” his expectations already.

He said he experienced a few disappointments, namely that an NHS-wide focus on innovation had not started until this month.

But he told HSJ it was “fantastic” his report had changed the “language and currency” of NHS reform: “What is the buzz-word out there? Everyone is talking about quality. Five years ago it was ‘payment by results’, ‘the tariff’, ‘foundation status’.

“But the language and the dictionary of reform now has become ‘quality’, ‘innovation’.”

These aspirations would not be sidelined as the NHS braced itself for recession, he said, adding that the “most relevant” day for his review had not been its publication on 30 June last year, but two and a half months later, when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

He claimed there was “absolutely” no substance to rumours that he has been unhappy with the political aspect of his role as a member of prime minister Gordon Brown’s “government of all the talents” in 2007.

Asked what he would be doing this time next year, he made it clear he expected not to be a minister: “The people who will make change in the NHS are not here [in the Department of Health] they are out there. And I will be with them doing my work.”