MPs spurn Hunt Monitor chair choice
Thursday 24th October 2013, 1:10PM BST.
An influential committee of MPs has rejected Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s choice to chair England’s health service sector regulator, Monitor.
The House of Commons Health Committee said Dominic Dodd was not “the right person” to lead the transition from current chair David Bennett.
Select committees do not have the power to veto appointments to public bodies, but their views carry weight in Westminster and their refusal to endorse Mr Hunt’s choice is an embarrassment for the Secretary of State.
In a brief report following a pre-appointment hearing with Mr Dodd, the Health Committee said: “Dr Bennett has both shaped and interpreted the role that Monitor now plays in the system, which makes the transition to another individual taking on the chair an especially difficult one.
“We do not think Mr Dodd is the right person to undertake that difficult transition. On this basis we do not endorse Mr Dodd’s appointment.”
The decision to reject Mr Hunt’s choice was made after the committee split along party lines, with Labour members outvoting those from the coalition parties.
Conservative chairman Stephen Dorrell initially proposed that the committee should endorse Mr Dodd’s appointment but commit to reviewing his progress after six months, putting on record that it wanted to “hear further from him about how he plans to hold the chief executive to account and handle conflicts of interest”.
A motion to withhold the committee’s endorsement was put forward by Labour MP Barbara Keeley and carried by three votes to two. Ms Keeley was backed by Labour colleagues Grahame Morris and Valerie Vaz and opposed by Conservative Sarah Wollaston and Liberal Democrat Andrew George. As chairman, former health secretary Mr Dorrell did not vote.
The committee has a built-in coalition majority, with five Tories – including Mr Dorrell – one Lib Dem and five Labour MPs. But Tories Charlotte Leslie, Andrew Percy and David Tredinnick did not attend the meeting yesterday.
In a letter to the committee ahead of the meeting, Mr Hunt named Mr Dodd as “my preferred candidate for appointment”.
Currently the chairman of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Mr Dodd is also director of Europe’s largest academic health science system, UCL Partners, and non-executive director of Permanent TSB Group Holdings.
He was previously a top executive at management consultants Marakon Associates, whose clients include private healthcare firms.
Under reforms of the NHS introduced by the coalition, Monitor has the responsibility to make sure public sector health providers are well-led; oversee choice and competition and ensure the NHS payment system rewards quality and efficiency; enable integration of care services; and ensure that essential NHS services continue if a provider gets into difficulty.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We have received the Health Select Committee report and will announce the next steps shortly.”