In a shock move, Lord Ara Darzi has resigned from his post as parliamentary under-secretary in the Department of Health to devote all of his attention on the clinical and research factions of healthcare.

A leading surgeon and ‘frontline’ doctor, Darzi was charged two years ago with driving a fundamental review of the future direction of the NHS – coined the NHS Next Stage Review - and subsequently published the groundbreaking report High Quality Care for All, which detailed several new initiatives to help boost the quality of service provision.

Commenting on some of the achievements made during his time in office, Darzi the NHS is now “the first health system in the world to systematically measure, record and openly publish information on its quality of care”, and he also highlighted the “tremendous change in the level of ambition for what is possible”.

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Darzi explained that he had overseen the implementation of his report's conclusions over the past year and that: “The time has now come for me to return to care for my patients, lead my academic department, and continue my research on a full time basis”.

In a responding letter, the PM thanked Darzi for his “outstanding contribution” to government, particularly as his leadership “has made possible far greater clinical involvement in decision-making at every level,” and applauded him for creating “a movement for change and improvement across the health service”.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham also paid tribute to the “immense” contribution Darzi made during his time as health minister. “The Next Stage Review has set a defining vision for the NHS for years to come, embedding quality at the heart of everything it does, and engaging thousands of staff and patients along the way”, he said, commenting on Darzi’s work.

Praise also came from Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive Dr Peter Carter, who said Darzi has been “instrumental in shifting the focus of health reforms to where they should be, which is on providing quality care” and that he “leaves a lasting legacy on the health service”.

Advisory role
But Darzi has not withdrawn from the government altogether, having agreed to take a on role as Health and Life Sciences Ambassador and, in this capacity, chair of a new NHS Global Forum, which aims to promote the NHS and life sciences industry in the UK in the global arena.

The forum will be established in the next few weeks and will be made up of representatives from government, the NHS and representatives from across the life-science industries, Number 10 has confirmed.

In addition, Lord Darzi will also advise the government on health reforms, relating to both the NHS and global public health, the DH said.