Published on 11 December 2015
- Our Work
- The Reformer Blog
15 January 2016
In the week of the first doctors’ strike in 40 years, much attention was devoted to how technology will transform the health service for doctors and patients. An NHS England/Reform conference on Tuesday showed the Government’s commitment to a digital NHS which will lead to far fewer traditional GP appointments and hospital admissions. On Thursday, George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences, committed to faster adoption of new technology in the NHS.
Hannah Titley, Researcher
Prime Minister David Cameron, delivering a comprehensive speech on the Government’s “Life Chances Strategy” on Monday. He focused on policies to tackle the causes rather than symptoms of poverty, placing choice and competition at the heart of the Government’s agenda to drive up public service standards.
Central and local government, who on Tuesday were reported to be failing to coordinate £350 million of local welfare funding. The Work and Pensions Committee concluded that better co-ordination is needed to prevent severe hardship.
On Monday, David Cameron MP promised a “revolution” in mental health treatment in England, assigning £1 billion to improve mental health service provision in hospitals and communities.
On Tuesday, the Department for Education published a “school efficiency metric tool” which allows schools to compare their financial efficiency with similar schools.
On Thursday, George Freeman MP announced the introduction of free Wi-Fi in NHS buildings and commended efforts by some hospitals to introduce tablets to replace paper.
On Tuesday, junior doctors went on strike over the proposed changes to pay and working hours. The next strike is planned for 26 January if negotiations are unsuccessful.
Also on Tuesday, a National Audit Office (NAO) report revealed that local councils do not measure the effectiveness of their spending on local welfare provision or understand the consequences of reducing this provision.
On Wednesday, the NAO reported a significant increase in government expenditure on temporary staff in 2011-12. The report highlights the need for strategic workforce planning to drive down dependency on temporary staff.
“Sometimes we can make politics sound very complicated, but for me it all comes back to a simple ambition. To give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools—the character, the knowledge and the confidence that will let their potential shine brightly. So for people in Britain who are struggling today, our mission as a government is to look each parent and child in the eye, and say, ‘Your dreams are our dreams. We’ll support you with everything we’ve got.’”
“Making sure the NHS is always leading the world in adopting innovations is one of my main priorities as minister, especially when it comes to adopting new technology across the system. In a recent speech to the Association of Medical Research Charities, I described data and technology as the “oil that flows through a modern health service”. That’s why I introduced my Patient Data Bill in the last Parliament with the first ever fully updated integrated patient record passed into law last year. Also, I am delighted to support the hugely impressive push by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to introduce tablets to replace paper”
“Councils provide discretionary local welfare support, but increasing numbers are stopping doing so, and less is being spent overall now than in 2013. The consequences of creating this gap in provision are not understood, either in terms of impact on vulnerable people or of creating potentially costly additional care or medical needs in the longer term.”
On Sunday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show to discuss the proposed reforms to junior doctors’ contracts, arguing that they are a reasonable and necessary step towards achieving a seven-day NHS.
On Tuesday, Reform held a joint conference with NHS England exploring the potential for NHS reform presented by technology. Tracey Grainger, Head of Digital Primary Care Development at NHS England, opened the conference with a keynote speech, which was followed by two panel discussions.
On Wednesday, Reform held a policy roundtable to discuss the potential for technology to improve public sector productivity. The session, supported by O2, was led by Tony Singleton OBE, Director of the G-Cloud and Digital Commercial Programme at the Government Digital Service.
On Friday, Eleonora Harwich, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog highlighting the merits of using more flexible metrics to measure success in prisons.