A bad morning for Sir David Nicholson?

2 June 2015

Writing two weeks ago, Cathy Corrie of Reform noted that the new Government’s strong advocacy of health reform was a “challenge” to the NHS. Sir David Nicholson and others had argued in the General Election campaign itself that the Government’s wish to control health spending was misguided. Another group made the same case just after the Election. Similar establishment voices contested the reform agendas of the Blair Government and the first-term Cameron Government. This Parliament will be no different.

Today’s article by Jeremy Hunt is a further shot in the battle. The Secretary of State says squarely that there will be no further funds beyond the £8 billion needed to maintain per-capita funding. More importantly, he sets out the idea that good care and controlled spending can go together. He rightly gives a safer service as a good example of that. Less medical errors, less complications and less unnecessary treatment mean better care at lower cost.  The same argument applies to services that are more integrated and do more to prevent ill health.

Cathy Corrie argued that the Government would need to be as resolute on NHS reform as it has been on police reform, also in the face of backwards-looking opposition. Jeremy Hunt is right to refer to those police reforms today (“in the public sector, Theresa May’s Home Office has seen crime fall to its lowest ever levels despite a 23 per cent budget cut”).

Another lesson of the police reforms was to make the case early (via the Winsor review on police terms and conditions, among other reforms). On health, the new Government is firmly on the front foot.

Andrew Haldenby, Director, Reform

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