The Week, Friday 27 July 2018

27 July 2018

This week, the Ministry of Justice announced that it will continue to contract out to private probation service providers because of the key role they play in driving up quality and end early several contracts which need improvement. To get outsourcing right going forward, the Public Accounts Committee recommended that the Government be more assertive in shaping the procurement market.

Maisie Borrows, Senior Researcher, Reform

Reformer of the week

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Foundation Trust, for successfully managing A&E wait times by adopting a ‘whole system approach’ to care, where the hospitals works closely with local GPs and social care to prevent unnecessary admissions.

Good week for…

Alternative treatments for mental health

On Monday, Matt Hancock MP supported the greater use of alternative treatments, such as gardening and arts clubs, for people experiencing mental health illnesses.

The Northern Powerhouse

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister renewed focus on the Northern Powerhouse by announcing the “North of Tyne” devolution deal and promising £780 million to be invested in the east coast mainland upgrade.

Bad week for…

Small and medium size businesses (SMEs)

On Thursday, an FOI report revealed that local authority payment practices were giving public sector contractors a license to treat SMEs poorly. Amongst England’s 353 Local Authorities, 75 per cent admitted to deducting 5 per cent of contract value from suppliers.

Open government

On Tuesday, the last day before recess, Government made a number of announcements, including increased overcrowding on trains and rising levels of violence and drug use in prisons.


“Government must look with fresh eyes at the motivations of companies currently bidding for central government work and develop a strategy that requires contract-awarding bodies to look beyond bottom-line costs. Crucial to this will be to embed procurement best practice across departments.”

Meg Hillier MP, speaking on Tuesday.

“Technology in healthcare is coming. What we need to do is to make sure the NHS is able to utilise this in a way that achieves the holy trinity of allowing better care for patients, easier service provision for clinicians and saves the NHS money.”

Matt Hancock MP, speaking to the Department of Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday.

“We’re committed to this data-driven approach, which not only helps speedy and accurate triage decisions but also helps the clinician receiving a patient who has come through the urgent care system—they know their history and they have been appropriately triaged. Data has long been the life-blood of digital transformation, and it brings us into the world of machine learning, AI and the world of biometrics—but we must start with getting the data right, and the processes of collecting and updating that. Then we can continue to perfect the personalised service enabling often life-saving decision-making at the point of crisis in health.”

Dr Sam Shah, Director for Digital Development for NHS England, writing in the NHS Digital blog on Wednesday.

Reform’s Week

Reformer Blog

On Wednesday, Walter M. Pasquarelli, Founder,, wrote a blog highlighting the challenge that EdTech faces in eliminating bias in education.


On Tuesday, Tom Richmond, Senior Research Fellow at Reform, was interviewed on the BBC News at Five about this week’s pay rise for teachers and other public sector workers, with teachers receiving up to 3.5 per cent in September.


On Monday, Reform held a roundtable on ‘Building a better service for citizens: HMRC reform and modernisation’, led by Mervyn Walker, Lead Non-Executive, HM Revenue and Customs. This event was held in partnership with BT.

If you are interested in partnering with us in the Autumn, please do get in contact with our events team at Our work covers all of the important public services including health, education, criminal justice and welfare; cross-cutting issues such as technology in public services and diversity; and economic questions such as skills, housing and the industrial strategy.



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