Frank Dobson dead: Former Labour Health Secretary dies aged 79

Former Labour Health Secretary Frank Dobson has died at the age of 79.

The Yorkshire-born politician resigned from the House of Commons four years ago, having serving as Holborn and St Pancras MP for 36 years.

He was replaced by Sir Keir Starmer, now the shadow Brexit secretary.

Mr Dobson was Tony Blair’s first Health Secretary after the landslide Labour victory in 1997.

The former leader of Camden Council was Labour’s candidate at the mayoral election in 2000 having been persuaded to go for the newly created job by Mr Blair, but ultimately lost out to Ken Livingstone.

Announcing his passing, a family spokesman said: “The Dobson family, is sad to announce the death of Frank Dobson, former MP for Holborn and St Pancras and secretary of state for health.

Mr Dobson with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2000


“His family would like to thank all the staff at the Homerton University Hospital for their outstanding expertise, commitment and care in the last few months and also the staff of York Hospital for his previous excellent care.

“He also greatly appreciated the support of his many friends and former parliamentary colleagues.”

Current Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter: “Just heard the news that Frank Dobson has passed away.

“From one health secretary to another, thank you for your years of service and devotion to our health service.”

Mr Dobson entered the Commons the same year Margaret Thatcher became prime minister.

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Following his unsuccessful bid for City Hall at the turn of the millennium, he returned to the backbenches and spoke out against a string of party policies including the Iraq War, top-up fees for students, the marketisation of parts of the NHS and longer detention without charge for terror suspects.

He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1979

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Following his decision to step down in 2015, the West Ham supporter said at the time: “It has been an honour to represent the people of Holborn and St Pancras for all these years and to have made at least some contribution to making it a better place to live.

“I am proud of the people I represent. They get on together and help one another.

“Outsiders who have tried to stir up divisions have always failed. Common sense and human decency have prevailed.

“It has been hard work keeping up with the needs and aspirations of local people and helping resolve their problems. My constituents have been slow to chide and swift to bless.”

He leaves behind his wife Janet and their three children.


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