The Week, 8 July 2016

8 July 2016

Two weeks to the day after Brexit, the Secretary of State for Health confirmed that the Government’s commitment to radical reform remains unchanged at Reform’s summer health conference.

Hannah Titley, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, as above.

Reactionary of the week

Central government departments, who fail to provide good and cost-effective oversight of arm’s length bodies, as reported by the National Audit Office (NAO) on Tuesday.

Good week for…

Life chances

On Monday, the Cabinet Office launched an £80 million ‘Life Chances Fund’ to support Social Impact Bonds. The fund aims to improve life chances for individuals through local solutions.


On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics reported personal wellbeing has improved across each of the measures over the five year period to March 2016.

Women on boards

Also on Thursday, the Government unveiled a new review on women in senior leadership. This comes as the 2016 FTSE Board Report reported a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of women on FTSE boards since March 2015.

Bad week for…

Departmental oversight

On Tuesday, an NAO report found there to be variation in oversight of arm’s-length bodies. The report concluded that “there is no collective understanding of what type of oversight is appropriate and cost effective for different types of arm’s-length bodies” and that the arm’s-length bodies sector remains “confused and incoherent.”

Multi-academy trust performance

On Thursday, the Department for Education published research showing high variation in the performance of multi-academy trusts (MATs). Reform’s forthcoming research will analyse the variation in how MATs are operating to establish best practice.

NHS luddites

Also on Thursday, George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences, stated that “the government and the health and care system remain absolutely committed to realising the benefits of sharing information, as an essential part of improving outcomes for patients.” On the previous day, NHS England announced that it would be scrapping its central database of patient records.


“Categorically, I say that we should renew our ambition with added determination to make the NHS the safety, highest-quality as well as the fairest health system in the world. The only thing that we should remember about Bevan − his vision was one of equity, but also of excellence. It doesn’t work to say ‘the NHS will provide mediocre healthcare for all’ if the rich can fly to the Mayo Clinic for their cancer care, going business class. Bevan’s vision says ‘the NHS is there for you, no matter what your background or where you live’, but in reforming the NHS, we need to remember excellence as much as equity.”

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, speaking at Reform’s summer health conference on Thursday

“If one of the main reasons for having arm’s length bodies is to provide a zone of relative independence, the fact that oversight mechanisms focus predominantly on compliance and control means there is almost certainly room for improvement.”

Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office, commenting on Tuesday

“This government has prioritised equality for women, pushing for greater representation in business and providing young women with the role models that inspire them and their career choices. We have already made huge progress − having increased the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards from 12 per cent to 26 per cent. But now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back and say ‘job well done’ − we must be even more ambitious. That’s why I am delighted that Sir Philip and Dame Helen will be heading up such a prestigious team of Britain’s best and brightest leaders to drive this ambition forward. The expertise and passion of all the people involved leave me with no doubt that we will continue to see a genuine culture change at the heart of British business. This isn’t just important for women − it’s critical for our economy − that’s why I want to see greater representation from the classroom to the boardroom.”

Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, announcing the new government review on women in senior leadership on Thursday

Reform’s week


On Wednesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, appeared on the BBC 6 O’clock News and 10 O’clock News. He argued that the Government was likely to impose the revised contract on junior doctors. He said that the tight NHS finances post-Brexit meant that doctors would be disappointed if they demanded extra money for the NHS.


On Thursday, Reform convened a major health conference on ‘Seizing the opportunity: building on reform success’, with a keynote speech by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health. Other speakers included George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences; Professor Paul Corrigan, Professor of Health Policy at University College London and former Senior Health Policy Advisor to Tony Blair; and Noel Gordon, Chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The event was held at the Royal Horseguards Hotel in partnership with Alliance Medical, Baxter Healthcare and BD.

Also on Thursday, Reform convened a private policy roundtable, led by the Minister of State for Welfare Reform Lord Freud, to explore what more government can do to reduce fraud and error in the benefits system.

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby published his first vlog since the EU referendum result, in which he explained that Reform’s goal of delivering quality public services within sustainable public finances remains the same.

On Thursday, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, wrote a blog for Reform in which he outlined the Government’s five chief priorities in pursuing the goal that “NHS care should be the safest and highest quality available anywhere.”

Also on Thursday, Charlotte Pickles, Deputy Director and Head of Research at Reform, wrote a blog in which she explored the potential to reduce fraud and error in the benefits system through data analytics and behavioural economics.

On Friday, Nicky Sturt, Market Access Director at Baxter Healthcare, wrote a blog for Reform in which she argued that sustainable improvement to healthcare delivery requires innovation through partnership between the NHS, industry, academia and the third sector.



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