The Week, 17 June 2016

17 June 2016

This week provided a vista of tomorrow’s public services. George Freeman’s vision of a more innovative NHS, set out in a speech to Reform on Tuesday, became a reality. The London Borough of Enfield became the first government body to use artificial intelligence to deliver services, as it introduced a computer system capable of helping residents find information and complete application forms.

Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher

Reformer of the week #1

The London Borough of Enfield, for becoming the first government body to recruit a “virtual employee” for delivering frontline services. The new recruit will complete human-resource tasks, respond to residents’ queries and help with licence and permit applications, 24 hours a day.

Reformer of the week #2

George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences, who argued that the NHS should be a “partner, not a procurer” of innovation in a speech for Reform on Tuesday.

Good week for…

The Northern Powerhouse

On Monday, the Chancellor announced that foreign direct investment in the north has grown 127 per cent in the last two years.


On Wednesday, UK unemployment fell to its lowest level since 2005.

Seven-day GP services

On Friday, research by the University of Sussex found that seven-day GP opening reduced A&E attendances by 18 per cent on the weekend.

Bad week for…

Business-rate reform

The Commons Communities and Local Government Committee identified a “host of issues”, including rates of appeals and withdrawing Revenue Support Grant, that need to be addressed before the Government implements 100 per cent business-rate retention for local authorities.

School choice

On Wednesday, it was reported that one in six children did not get their first choice of secondary school last year—the same level as last year.

Quotes of the week

“Outsourcing prisons…is complex and the cost of letting a poor contract can be immense. At the other end of the scale, there is no reason for procurement procedures not to be simple and timescales short, particularly for small businesses. But, as the Commons communities and local government select committee has pointed out, the UK often operates its public procurement in an unnecessarily bureaucratic way, with a lack of consistency in the way regulations are implemented that means tendering costs are typically higher in the UK than in other EU member states.”

Colin Cram, writing in The Guardian on Monday

“There needs to be a big conversation about the cost of this innovation. Unless we embrace a new model, unless we move from being a retail purchaser of innovation to a partner that cost [for the innovations required] will be prohibitive.”

George Freeman MP, in a speech to Reform on Tuesday

“Our approach to transformation embraces digital technology to find completely new ways of sporting residents, which, in turn, frees up valuable resources for reinvestment in front line services.”

James Rolfe, Enfield Council, on Friday

“There is clearly evidence of unmet demand for weekend GP opening.Seven-day opening for GPs appears to make a dent in two major sources of A&E expense—admissions and ambulance usage. The latter alone shows a significant drop of nearly 20 per cent on weekends. Costs aside, there is also strong evidence that patient healthcare, in many cases, could be better delivered by a visit to a GP.”

Dr Vikram Pathania of Sussex’s School of Business on Friday

Reform’s week


On Friday, TheTimes published a letter by Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, arguing against “writing off the current programme of NHS reform”, as Alice Thomson had done on Wednesday (£).

In the June issue of FIRE Magazine, an article appeared on the Home Secretary Theresa May MP’s speech last month to Reform on fire−service reform.


On Tuesday Reform hosted a speech at the London Stock Exchange by George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences, on ‘The 21st century NHS: an engine for innovation, and patient empowerment?’.

Also on Tuesday Reform hosted a private policy dinner led by David Gauke MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, on ‘UK business ina competitive world’.

The Reformer Blog

On Wednesday Andrew Haldenby wrote a blog contrasting the positive vision of NHS reform offered by George Freeman MP with the negative vision of Alice Thomson in her Times column (£) on that day.

Also on Wednesday Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog on a speech made for Reform by George Freeman MP, in which she argued that the NHS will best meet its budget targets by using its considerable data reserves to target early interventions.

On Thursday Will Mosseri-Marlio, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog setting out the case for future increases in the State Pension age.



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