Was NHS reform review too rushed?


It all seems terribly rushed. Professor Steve Field has just given a press briefing for his NHS Future Forum report, and one couldn't help feeling they could have done with more time.

Prof Field stressed that they'd only had eight weeks to reach their conclusions. Several areas, he said, needed a lot more work. And twice he told us that he's only realised important points within the "last couple of days". So what if he'd had a couple more days, or weeks?

Officially David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley only got their final copies of the report this morning, though they got uncorrected versions last Friday - on condition they didn't leak them, Prof Field told us. As if they'd ever dream of it. And ministers plan to come up with their response tomorrow (Tuesday). Three and a half days to make very far-reaching decisions. Normally decision like that take months, not days.

I agree with Prof Field that the "pause" process has been a very useful exercise, and also with his implication that the process might be applied elsewhere. But I can't help feeling a bit more time for reflection might also help too.

Perhaps the most radical part of the Field report is the proposed patients' Right to Challenge commissioning decisions, as I revealed on Newsnight last Tuesday. But Nick Clegg, I hear, is a bit wary of this measure. It will be interesting to see if the Lib Dems oppose it. And if so, why?

Michael Crick, Political editor, Newsnight Article written by Michael Crick Michael Crick Political editor, Newsnight

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  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    It is about time the NHS was taken out of government hands - it is too important. It should be run by a cross party committee with a group of executive directors taken from the very brightest and best in British industry to ensure there is a private sector eye on how our tax money is spent - people like Sir Gerry Robinson for example. We need continuity of management, rather than constant change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I can't help thinking that whatever the government did they would get it wrong in someone's eyes. It is either too quick or they would have been accused of stalling over such an important issue. I applaud them for having the guts to pause it and admit it wasn't fit for purpose and needed further consultation and amendment - something the arrogant last government wouldn't have done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    *When we have the next General Election, the electorate will have to question candates very closely upon their intentions on the NHS,
    and request a written undertaking that they will not privatise the NHS.
    This way the electorate can hold elected representatives to their
    democratic pledge of honesty.
    This will probably stop any deceit by MPs, what we need is more accountability and democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    *Yes patients must be able to challenge the commissioning process,
    because this is the very core of democracy, that is to have the right to be involved in your own medical treatment, and the decision making process.
    This is what democracy is, to be involved in decision making that affects your own life and health.
    Can't understand why Clegg would oppose democracy, when it affects
    your life?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    rouser #6

    I would like to see a Balance Sheet for the NHS and a Profit and Loss account too.

    The 'football' that is the NHS has been used by successive governments as a means of exercising political dogma wrapped up in the so-called need for reform.

    Michael Crick is correct in suggesting that the NHS reform review was too rushed. Every political reform of the NHS always has been since 1948.


Comments 5 of 11



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