Although he has become strongly identified with reform of the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Lord Darzi did not initially train within the NHS, as he studied medicine in the Republic of Ireland, at the undergraduate facility of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and subsequently obtained the postgraduate degree of MD at Trinity College, Dublin.
He eventually moved to the UK from Ireland to further his career, and in 2002 became a British citizen. He was awarded a knighthood for his services to medicine and surgery, and subsequently elevated to the peerage.
He is married to Wendy with whom he has two children, Freddie and Nina.
In addition to his initial Fellowship of the Dublin College, Darzi has been elected to Fellowship of the sister Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England, Edinburgh and Glasgow. He is also Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and more recently awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his research contribution to bioengineering research.
The innovative work of Darzi and his team in education and assessment of surgeons, including the use of simulations and virtual reality, is internationally recognised as showing the way forward for surgical education. They were awarded in 2001 the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Excellence in Higher and Further Education in recognition for achievements in pioneering new technologies to address training requirements for trainee surgeons, surgeons in post and other professionals.
On 29 June 2007 Professor Sir Ara Darzi was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lords) at the Department of Health by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He was created a life peer on 12 July 2007 as Baron Darzi of Denham, of Gerrards Cross in the County of Buckinghamshire. His appointment was part of Brown's Government of all the talents.
On 4 July 2007 Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Health, announced in the House of Commons that Lord Darzi was to carry out a "wide-ranging review of the NHS" to ensure that "a properly resourced NHS is clinically led, patient-centred and locally accountable." It would also "consider the case for a new NHS constitution". The review was to "directly engage patients, NHS staff and the public on four critical challenges":
- to ensure that clinical decision making is at the heart of the future of the NHS...
- to improve patient care, including providing high-quality, joined-up services for those suffering long-term or life-threatening conditions...
- to ensure that more accessible and convenient care is integrated across primary and secondary providers...
- to establish a vision for the next decade of the health service that is based less on central direction and more on patient control, choice and local accountability...
An interim report, Our NHS, Our Future, was published on 4 October 2007. The final report of this review, High Quality Care for All was published on 30 June 2008, along with A High Quality Workforce, which sets out how the findings relating to the NHS workforce will be taken forward, and a consultation on a draft NHS constitution.
The report, High Quality Care for All has provoked a range of views:
Prior to his appointment in the House of Lords, in December 2006 NHS London asked Professor Sir Ara Darzi to "develop a strategy to meet Londoners' health needs over the next five to ten years". The report Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action was published on 11 July 2007. Recommendations included the development of academic health science centres and the introduction of polyclinics.