Time as Health Secretary

Health and Social Services Secretary 2 May 1997 – October 1999

Despite the commitment not to increase spending above the level set by the Tories, Frank Dobson:


  • Started cutting hospital waiting lists
  • Commenced hospital building and refurbishment programmes with new hospitals including Blackburn, Carlisle, Dartford, Durham, James Cook, Norwich, Swindon, University College Hospital London, Royal London and major works in many others
  • Commenced rebuilding and expanding A&E departments
  • Established NHS DirectNHS_NNUH_entrance
  • Established The  Commission for Health Improvement
  • Established National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
  • Introduced the world’s first Meningitis ‘C’ vaccination campaign
  • Increased the number of medical students by 20 per cent and set up the Peninsula, Hull and York medical schools
  • Increased the numbers of nurses in training
  • Saved Barts from closure
  • Introduced National Service Frameworks which spelled out what services should be provided for conditions involving heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • Introduced the Nye Bevan awards for clinical innovation
  • Established Health Action Zones which targeted increased funding on the most deprived areasNHSDirect
  • In 1999 negotiated an extra £18 billion for the NHS over the next three years
  • In a memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair made clear “a first class NHS would cost a first class fare” which led to a further big increase in NHS funding
  • Started the ‘quality protects’ programme to improve the lot of children in care
  • Extended the age limit for which Councils are responsible for children in care
  • Launched the Every Child Matters policy


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