27 March 2003 | Robin Parker
The chief executive of the NHS's purchasing arm has paid tribute to Lord Hunt's efforts to improve procurement in his tenure as health minister.
Lord Hunt was one of several ministers and ministerial aides who resigned in protest over prime minister Tony Blair's decision to join the US and go to war against Iraq.
He said after announcing his resignation on the BBC Today programme: "I do not feel we are justified in taking pre-emptive action without broad international support, or the clear support of the British people."
Lord Hunt launched a major drive to improve NHS procurement last year, when he branded existing standards "unacceptable".
Measures introduced in the past year to raise the standard of procurement include regional purchasing consortia, training schemes and a proposed leadership programme.
Duncan Eaton, chief executive of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, said Lord Hunt would be "greatly missed" by the healthcare community.
"He has been very active in purchasing and supply issues and particularly supportive of national purchasing and the application of performance measures to NHS procurement."
A six-month review of NHS procurement by Brian Rigby, who retired this month as deputy chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce, is due in the coming weeks, although NHS officials could not confirm if Lord Hunt's departure would affect this.