NHS 'needs more fundamental change than most realise', says former Health Secretary

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He's gone, but Stephen Dorrell isn't giving too much away yet about why.

The MP has taken everyone by surprise by standing down from the chairmanship of the Health Select Committee with immediate effect.

Stephen Dorrell will not yet reveal why he stepped down.
Stephen Dorrell will not yet reveal why he stepped down. Credit: ITV News

I asked him if he's planning to become a loose cannon. Replying that he'd prefer to be seen as a "controlled cannon", the former Health Secretary told me: "We're trying to administer a system that needs changing much more fundamentally than people have taken on board".

But he's in Liverpool at the NHS Confederation Conference, where the headline act today was the new chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, whose speech fleshed out plans for a radical redesign of the delivery of care.

Mr Stevens' bold ideas would strike most people as pretty "fundamental" changes for the Health Service.

To Stephen Dorrell though, those plans are merely "inching sideways rather than looking over the horizon".

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Stephen Dorrell has been an outstanding Health Select Committee Chair, I'm sorry to hear he is standing down as chair with immediate effect.

But when I press him on precisely what he'd criticise, or the kind of change he thinks is needed, the former health select committee chairman isn't so forthcoming, and gives his best politicians not-quite-an-answer replies.

Even so, there's something about our interview that tells me it won't be long before Stephen Dorrell does feel ready to use his new-found freedom to speak out about the direction the Health Service is being taken.