Flat-lining: lack of progress on NHS reform

Document type
Cawston, Thomas; Corrie, Cathy; Fraser, Clare
Date of publication
1 June 2013
Reform Ideas No 6
Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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Unlike most public services, Ministers have both ring-fenced the health budget and sought a radical agenda of reform and value for money. Ministers have said that they want an NHS with a smaller and more flexible workforce, with greater innovation in how care is delivered, with more competition, with better co-operation between the NHS and social care, with more financial discipline and with reduced bureaucracy.

This paper collects available evidence on the progress of NHS reform. However, it warns Ministers should be extremely concerned about the lack of progress. In several areas reform is actually in retreat. The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has argued that the NHS budget should not be cut since demand for health services is rising. This ignores the fact, however, that NHS spending increased by 94 per cent in real terms between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010. Removing the ring-fence on the health budget would provide a reason for the NHS to seek the efficiency and change that Ministers rightly want but which they have yet to deliver

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