A tribute to Nick Timmins

By July 14, 2011Obituaries

Clive Cookson, colleague of Nick Timmins at the Financial Times (FT), has written this tribute on the occasion of Nick being made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

‘As an old friend and long-time colleague, I may be biased in my view of Nick Timmins as the finest journalist of our generation writing about health policy – but I don’t think so.

‘The Royal College of Physicians certainly agrees. On July 13 it will make Nick an honorary fellow, the first time a professional health journalist has been honoured in this way.

‘Nick had already marked up a distinguished journalistic career by the time he joined the FT in 1996 as public policy editor. He started as a science reporter, with Nature and then the Press Association. Nick moved into writing about health and social services with The Times, before joining The Independent at the newspaper’s foundation in 1986.

‘At the FT, health policy has remained at the heart of Nick’s reporting, though his role as public policy editor is considerably wider. As a team leader, he heads a group covering education, home and legal affairs. His core task is to cover the boundary between public and private sectors on both the demand and supply side.

‘Notable scoops have included a comprehensive leak of Lord Turner’s proposals to reform the state pension and his 2007 interview with Lord Turnbull, formerly Gordon Brown’s permanent private secretary and head of the civil service, in which Turnbull accused Brown of operating with ‘Stalinist ruthlessness’.

‘Though Nick is clearly a great supporter of the NHS, he operates with political impartiality and his analysis is respected by all sides at Westminster. (A member of the Labour opposition health team recently said he is widely regarded as ‘a class act’.)

‘As Dame Carol Black wrote in her proposal for Nick’s RCP fellowship: ‘The sight of Nick Timmins at a press briefing will put any politician or professional on their toes. Polite but fearless is how I would describe him.’

FT editor Lionel Barber used the same word in a recent staff announcement about a change in Nick’s role. He has been ‘a fearless and resourceful reporter, landing numerous scoops and front page splashes,’ Lionel wrote.

‘From October Nick will no longer be public policy editor but will continue to write for the paper as a columnist and commentator. This will give him more time to pursue his more academic interests at think-tanks such as the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund and at King’s College London where Nick is a visiting professor of public management.’

Clive Cookson, science editor, FT


Main Image:

Philippa Pigache

Author Philippa Pigache

Philippa Pigache has been a journalist for more than 50 years, and, In her time, has covered everything except crime and sport. She also writes books, plays and short stories. She has been on staff of local newspapers, magazines, national newspapers, radio and television, including the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, the Guardian, ITN and BBC science features. She was quiz-queen for Cosmopolitan, agony auntie for Woman’s Realm and, since the 1990s, she has written on medical science for specialist magazine. She has authored several medical self-help books. She has won awards for journalism, books and fiction. 

More posts by Philippa Pigache

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend