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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK

Trust me, I'm a doctor

The fight to save health provision at Kidderminster Hospital flows in Dr Richard Taylor's blood.

His strength of belief and commitment to the National Health Service has propelled him into the Commons as Westminster's only independent MP.

Dr Taylor, 66, who stood as the Kidderminster Hospital and Help Concern candidate, won the Wyre Forest seat in the West Midlands with a majority of 17,630.

The campaign was based on the sole issue of preventing the downgrading of Kidderminster Hospital and demanding the re-opening of its accident and emergency department.

" The chief executive of the trust and one of the important directors of the trust have shaken my hand "
Dr Richard Taylor, MP

It brought the most dramatic result in the election and moved thousands of voters to turn out.

Dr Taylor said the result showed that people could oppose the political system if they felt passionate enough about the issue.

Speaking after his victory, he pledged not to let down his constituents. "They can look forward to being represented honestly and fairly in the House of Commons.

'Persona non grata'

"They will have their needs recognised.

"I think the most staggering thing this morning is that the chief executive of the trust and one of the important directors of the trust have shaken my hand.

"I've been persona non grata for three-and-a-half years and already they are looking to talk to me."

Now the campaign is over, the hard work really starts for the retired consultant, who must find his way through the political jungle without the support of a party.

The softly-spoken doctor has admitted to being daunted by the prospect of finding an office and settting himelf up in parliament.

However, he is able to call on the experience of Martin Bell, formerly the independent MP for Tatton, who has offered advice throughout the campaign.

Same school

The two men both went to the same school, Leys School in Cambridge.

Mr Bell will be on hand, although from the outside, as he failed in his attempt to unseat the Conservative MP in Brentwood and Ongar.

It will be an eye-opening experience for Dr Taylor, who has been a floating voter in the past, backing all three main parties.

But the issue that he has no indecision about is the future of the hospital where he worked for 23 years.

In the early 1990s he raised more than 400,000 for the cancer centre at Kidderminster General Hospital.

In 1997, he became chairman of the campaign to save the services there.

Now Wyre Forest's newest MP must turn his experience of fighting one issue to representing a whole consituency.

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