Page last updated at 01:10 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Top NHS figures get knighthoods

Andrew Dillon
Andrew Dillon has been given a knighthood

Three leading NHS figures have been given knighthoods in the New Year's honours list.

NHS chief executive, David Nicholson, cancer tsar, Mike Richards, and Andrew Dillon, head of the drug advisory body NICE, have all been recognised.

The three men have played significant roles in transforming the health service during their careers.

They are joined by a host of other senior figures working in the field of health who have been honoured.

Professor Mansel Aylward, a former government medical adviser and chairman of the Wales Centre for Health, and Professor John Burn, a leading expert in genetics from Newcastle University, were also given knighthoods.

And former Red Cross nurse Dr Claire Bertschinger, whose appearance in Michael Buerk's famous 1984 reports on the Ethiopian famine inspired Bob Geldof to organise Live Aid, was made a Dame for services to nursing and international humanitarian aid.

I've been lucky in my career in having some great jobs and in working with some of the most dedicated and hard-working people in the NHS
Sir Andrew Dillon, of NICE

She currently works for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Valerie Beral, a leading expert on cancer at Oxford University, was also given the same honour.

Meanwhile, Barry Cockcroft, the government's chief dental officer, and Professor Steve Field, president of the Royal College of GPs, were both given CBEs and Anna-Marie Hale, matron at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, was awarded an OBE.

Significant roles

Sir David Nicholson has played a key role in helping reform the NHS in recent years. Before taking up his post, he was chief executive of the NHS in London, and his career in the health service spans more than 30 years.

He was joined on the list by Sir Mike Richards, who has been the government's national director of cancer since 1999.


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During that time he has overseen the publication of the NHS Cancer Plan and Cancer Reform Strategy which have helped drive through improvements in care, such as shorter waiting times and quicker diagnosis.

Sir Andrew Dillon has led the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence since it was created in 1999.

While the decisions made by the advisory body to ration drugs have often proved controversial, its work is respected by governments across the world.

He said he was "very proud to be given the honour".

"I've been lucky in my career in having some great jobs and in working with some of the most dedicated and hard-working people in the NHS.

"I couldn't have achieved what I have done without them."


Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "We're delighted to congratulate Professor Mike Richards on his knighthood - it's a well deserved honour.

"Since his appointment as National Clinical Director for Cancer in October 1999, Professor Richards has been instrumental in transforming cancer services in England through the development of the National Cancer Plan in 2000 and the Cancer Reform Strategy in 2007.

"Cancer Research UK is working in close partnership with Professor Richards on the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) to bring the UK's survival rates up to the best in Europe.

"I'm delighted to congratulate Professor Valerie Beral on being awarded a DBE in the New Year honour's list.

"She has made ground breaking contributions to understanding cancer, most notably through the Million Women Study.

"This national study, led by Prof Beral, involves more than one million women over 50."

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