Cabinet reshuffle brings new health secretary

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 15 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:146

Extensive changes in the British cabinet have brought in Mr Stephen Dorrell as secretary of state for health in a straight swap with Mrs Virginia Bottomley, who replaces him as secretary of state for national heritage. Mr Dorrell, aged 43, was a junior minister at the Department of Health from 1990 to 1992.

Mr Dorrell has spent a year as heritage secretary, during which he launched Britain's first state lottery. He now inherits one of the most sensitive posts in the cabinet in the run up to a general election, with problems looming on NHS pay and general practitioners' hours.

His time as parliamentary under secretary for health in the early 1990s was spent in refining the NHS reforms, when he specialised in the financial regime for NHS trusts.

That was followed by three years as financial secretary to the Treasury before he entered the cabinet in July 1994. He has been MP for Loughborough since 1979.

Married with two children, Mr Dorrell is a graduate of Brasenose College, Oxford, and was chairman of his family's industrial clothing firm. The ministerial team under Mr Dorrell remains unchanged.

Other government changes are causing concern to scientists, with the transfer of the Office of Science and Technology to the Department of Trade and Industry. Hitherto it was part of the Office of Public Service and Science within the Cabinet Office. This, for the first time, gave science its own minister in the cabinet.

This latest move is likely to tilt the already shifting balance more towards industrial research at the expense of basic science.

The official announcement said that the functions and remit of the Office of Science and Technology will be unchanged and headed by the government's chief scientific officer (as from September, Professor Robert May of Oxford), who will have direct access to the prime minister.—JOHN WARDEN, parliamentary correspondent, BMJ

Stephen Dorrell, catches up on BMJs from the past three years


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