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?