Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Frank Dobson: Human decency is worth fighting for

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 09 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6538


Frank Dobson, 75, was the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras for 36 years, from 1979 to 2015. As health secretary from 1997 to 1999 he abolished the internal market inherited from the Conservatives and lobbied hard for more resources to run the service, only granted after he had been replaced by Alan Milburn. He stood unsuccessfully for mayor of London in May 2000. In the first 50 columns of BMJ Confidential he got the most votes as best post-war health secretary after Aneurin Bevan.

What was your earliest ambition?

To play cricket for Yorkshire and England, like Len Hutton and Fred Trueman.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents, who, I came to realise, instilled in me a belief in human decency, respect, and equality. I didn’t notice at the time.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Resigning as health secretary to run for mayor of London. How stupid can you get?

What was your best career move?

Persuading Neil Kinnock, when he was leader of the opposition, that I’d do …

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