Ones to watch: Healthcare champions in the new Parliament

Gabriel Gavin

MHP has identified 26 new Members of Parliament with a background in science, health or social care

The decisive General Election result was unexpected and its implications will be far-reaching. Health, and particularly the pharmaceutical industry, is one of many areas in which this Parliament will be radically different in its approach to the last.

Across the House of Commons, established healthcare advocates have stepped down or lost their seats, to be replaced by a new generation of MPs, many of whom have interests or experience in the field and will be worth keeping an eye on.

The loss of expertise includes a number of high-profile champions of healthcare issues, including Dr Sarah Wollaston, the former Conservative Chair of the Health Committee, who was re-standing in Totnes as a Liberal Democrat. Nic Dakin, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer was another casualty, losing his Scunthorpe seat as the collapse of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ became a defining characteristic of the election.

Additionally, a number of MPs across all parties chose to stand down ahead of the election, including social care champion and former Science and Technology Select Committee Chair Norman Lamb, and former pharmaceutical Government Affairs professional Owen Smith.

Over the coming weeks, elections for the Chairs of Select Committees will take place and their membership will be confirmed. This process is normally a prompt one: in 2017 the new Chairs were installed by 12 July – five weeks after polling day. In this period, All Party Parliamentary Groups will also begin to re-form with a new membership. It is also expected that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a more extensive restructure of Whitehall and an associated reshuffle of his ministerial team following the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union on 31st January

With the impasse over Brexit coming to an end, for the time being at least, there is an expectation that a broader focus on public policy will resume. Given the prominence of the NHS in the recent election campaign, alongside the impact of a free trade arrangement on the system, healthcare is set to remain the top domestic political issue.

The Government’s Commons majority makes legislation on healthcare more likely to be considered and passed. Unlike the Theresa May Minority Government, where legislative healthcare reform was delayed, December’s Queen’s Speech contained five bills within health and social care, with the most significant proposals proposed by NHS England still to come.

This also means that the individual contributions of parliamentarians are likely to be more significant and impactful, whereas in the past the centre of power lay between the Department and NHS England.

A number of incoming MPs are likely to shape the debate, drawing upon their relevant experience from healthcare practice, policy and campaigning.

In the downloadable briefing below, we have set out a number of people we believe will be of interest from the new intake, based on their previous experience:

Shape of things to come

The 26 MPs identified are listed below, with more information on their background and areas of interest available in the briefing:

Caroline Ansell

Conservative, Eastbourne

Former MP with a focus on healthcare issues


Sarah Atherton

Conservative, Wrexham

Qualified nurse with stated interest in mental health and social care


Paula Barker

Labour, Liverpool Wavertree

UNISON trade union organiser with a focus on NHS staff


Olivia Blake

Labour, Sheffield Hallam

NHS England employee and Non-Executive Director of a Foundation Trust


Paul Bristow

Conservative, Peterborough

Life sciences Government Affairs professional


Anthony Browne

Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

Former Health Editor of The Observer


Amy Callaghan

SNP, East Dunbartonshire

Diagnosed with skin cancer at a young age, has worked with cancer charities


Feryal Clark

Labour, Enfield North

Bioinformatician working in diagnostic virology


Elliot Colburn

Conservative, Carshalton and Wallington

Former Public Affairs Officer for NHS England


Virginia Crosbie

Conservative, Ynys Môn

Life sciences financial analyst with experience working in pharmaceuticals


Dr James Davies

Conservative, Vale of Clwyd

Practicing GP with specialism in dementia


Dr Luke Evans

Conservative, Bosworth

Practising GP and Conservative Policy Forum Health Champion


Katherine Fletcher

Conservative, South Ribble

Former nursing assistant in a care home


Anthony Higginbotham

Conservative, Burnley

Former NHS employee


Dr Neil Hudson

Conservative, Penrith and the Border

Practicing veterinarian


Ian Levy

Conservative, Northumberland

Former NHS worker focusing on mental healthcare


Carla Lockhart

DUP, Upper Bann

Member of the Legislative Assembly with strong interest in healthcare


Dr Keiran Mullan

Conservative, Crewe and Nantwich

Emergency medicine doctor with experience working on healthcare reforms


Taiwo Owatemi

Labour, Coventry North West

Senior Oncology Pharmacist specialising in cancer and palliative care


Sarah Owen

Labour, Luton North

GMB trade union organiser with an interest in healthcare


Dean Russell

Conservative, Watford

Strategic consultant in healthcare


Amanda Solloway

Conservative, Derby North

Former MP with a focus on healthcare issues


Dr Ben Spencer

Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge

Consultant Psychiatrist and Vice Chair of Conservative Health Group


Munira Wilson

Liberal Democrat, Twickenham

Former Corporate Affairs Director at a global pharmaceutical company