The Week, 8 April 2016

8 April 2016

In the last Parliament, ministers successfully refuted the argument that higher police numbers are the only way to improve public safety. The Government undermined its own case when, in the Spending Review, it argued that the police budget had to be protected. This week, the London Mayoral candidates called for “more bobbies on the beat”. The argument is not yet won.

Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Kenneth Clarke MP, for explaining the political difficulties of NHS reform and how to combat them.

Reactionaries of the week

London Mayoral candidates, for pledging to increase the number of police officers in London, despite evidence showing that smart policing, not more police, reduces crime.

Good week for…

Treating the NHS as a business

On Monday, NHS Property Services announced that GPs and hospitals will have to pay market rates for their properties. This will result in a rationalisation of the NHS estate, paving the way for an integration of services.

Reducing recidivism amongst fathers

On Wednesday, it was reported that reinforcing inmates’ links with their children at Britain’s biggest prison, HMP Parc, has reduced re-offending.

Falling productivity

On Thursday, it was revealed that UK productivity fell at the fastest pace since 2008.

Bad week for…

Arithmetic in the NHS

On Sunday, it was revealed that the NHS had 70,000 fewer personnel working for it than the Government had previously believed.

Home building

On Monday, it was reported that the construction of new houses slowed to its lowest level in three years last month.

Service-sector growth

On Tuesday, it was revealed that the UK suffered its worst quarter of service-sector growth since 2013.

Quotes of the week

“You can declare war more peacefully than you can reform a healthcare system. And the health department was very geared to minimising the row with its various clientele and lobbyists and interest groups. It is such a giant organisation, the National Health Service, which they were trying, when I first got there, to run centrally and bureaucratically, with a bureaucracy that wasn’t up to it. Six thousand officials, God knows what they all did, trying to run it centrally. The secretary of state was personally responsible for anything that went wrong anywhere and the underlying feeling was a kind of beleaguered, let’s minimise the fuss feeling.”

Kenneth Clarke reflecting on his time as Secretary of State for Health.

“Back when the GDS was launched, it had a focused mission. Now, its purpose is not so clear. ‘Government as a Platform’ is a worthwhile exercise, but it’s an implementation challenge. The original GDS was challenged to innovate relentlessly and show the world how much better government could be.

“Sharks exist to hunt down and tear up the weak. They are not collaborators, they are powerful predators. They are to be admired, not tamed. GDS should be given a new challenge and set free. Once again, it can lead the way.”

Joshua Chambers, writing in Civil Service World.

Reform’s week

On Monday, Charlotte Pickles, Reform’s Deputy Director and Head of Research, wrote a comment piece in POLICE, arguing that the direct accountability of Police and Crime Commissioners has strengthened “the principle that policing is by consent”.

On Tuesday, Reform held a policy roundtable with Nick Seddon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for Health, Social Care and the Life Sciences, on the theme ‘Seizing the opportunity: partnership after the 2015 Spending Review’.

On Wednesday, Reform held a policy dinner with John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, to discuss government accountability for performance. The event was held under the Chatham House Rule.

The Reformer Blog

On Thursday, Alexander Hitchcock, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog arguing that the Government should articulate a national vision for integrated commissioning in the NHS.

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