The veteran Labour politician Frank Dobson has died at the age of 79.
Mr Dobson served as health secretary in the government of Tony Blair following Labour’s 1997 landslide victory.
A popular figure in the party, he left government to contest the first-ever London mayoral election in 2000, coming third to ex-Labour and independent candidate Ken Livingstone.
He served as MP for Holborn and St Pancras in central London for more than 40 years before standing down in 2015.
In a statement, Mr Dobson’s family said he died on Monday after a long period of illness.
“His family would like to thank all the staff at the Homerton University Hospital for their outstanding expertise, commitment and care in the last few months and also the staff of York Hospital for his previous excellent care.
“He also greatly appreciated the support of his many friends and former parliamentary colleagues.”
Mr Dobson led Labour-controlled Camden Council in the 1970s before first being elected to Parliament in 1979.
He served in a number of shadow frontbench roles under Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair during Labour’s 18 years in opposition.
As Labour’s first health secretary for nearly 20 years, Mr Dobson oversaw the abolition of the internal market in the NHS, but was frustrated at financial constraints initially imposed by the Blair government, which stuck to the Conservatives’ spending plans for the first two years.
In 1999, he put himself forward as a candidate, some suggested reluctantly, for the new post of London mayor.
However, his campaign was a troubled one and he was pushed into third place behind Mr Livingstone, who ran as an independent – after being barred from standing by Labour – and the Conservative candidate Steve Norris.
After his defeat, he never returned to government but continued in Parliament for a further 15 years.
Labour candidates and officials have been paying tribute to Mr Dobson, whose death was announced by his family.
And current Conservative Health Secretary Matt Hancock also praised his “years of devotion” to the health service.