New Health Select Committee Chair – Why Charlotte Leslie gets our vote – 17th June 2014


There has never been a time when healthcare has been so intensely under public scrutiny. Recent years have seen various reports that that have shocked the nation and triggered commitments from a wide range of organisations involved in the commissioning, regulation and provision of healthcare, to implement significant reforms.  In this period of flux and change, the role of the Health Select Committee will be more crucial than ever before. The sudden departure of Stephen Dorrell as Chair of the committee therefore leaves a gap that needs to be filled by exactly the right person.

One of the lessons of recent years is that listening to the voice of patients and their families can be a powerful barometer for culture and safety in healthcare, yet too often in politics, these are the very voices that are heard the least.  Anne Clwyd bucked the trend in such a powerful way when she stood up in the commons and recited the real experience of patients and families who have written to her about their experiences of care. Another politician who has been shown to buck the trend is Charlotte Leslie. Time and time again, Charlotte has shown that she has the courage to listen to patients, whistle-blowers and front line staff and ask the difficult questions others have stayed silent about.

It is a sad reality that in the history of healthcare in the UK, seminal reports and commitments to make changes have a nasty habit of failing to result in sustained change. In 2001, Professor Ian Kennedys report into the deaths of babies undergoing heart surgery at the Bristol Royal infirmary, recommended “The NHS must root out unsafe practices and learn from its errors”. We must ensure that in 10 years’ time, we aren’t looking back at the Francis recommendations and asking why nothing changed. To do this, it’s clear that this time, we need to do something different.

Writing about her decision to stand for HSC Chair, Charlotte describes a  “…passion to bring our political discourse about health and the NHS closer to ward, surgery, care-home or street level reality….” and states “….if we are to really change cultures, we cannot shy away from hard truths.”

These are easy words to say, but in Charlotte Leslie’s case, everyone who has any experience of her as a politician, knows her sincerity and conviction. The Health Select Committee must be a fearless forum for highlighting difficult issues and challenging the system on behalf of the people that matter most; the patients and families who use services and dedicated staff who work to put patients first. Charlotte has a track record for doing exactly this and for this reason, gets our vote as the new Health Select Committee Chair.

James Titcombe

Julie Bailey – Cure the NHS

Dr Kim Holt – Chair Patients First

Professor Brian Jarman

Dr Raj Mattu



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