Westminster Diary – NHS Reforms


On Monday at the despatch box in the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, set out the new Government’s plans to make health outcomes for patients among the best in the world. Despite a tripling of expenditure over the past thirteen years, methods of delivering the service have not changed, and in many areas the NHS is not doing as well as it could. Reforms are being proposed which remain committed to the core belief of the NHS of access to a health service that is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not the ability to pay.

The plans to remove the top down control and political targets that have so badly constrained our health services, will empower doctors and nurses to deliver results by putting them in charge of the services which best meet the needs of their local communities. We have long believed that the doctors and nurses working within the local healthcare system know best how it should be run, and we specifically committed to this approach during the election campaign. So, we will remove the targets and the bureaucracy and in their place we will introduce an outcomes framework setting out what the service should achieve, leaving the professionals to develop how. 

The new proposals are designed to provide local authorities and most importantly patients, with the power to make decisions about their healthcare. As Andrew Lansley said, ‘patients will be at the heart of the new NHS. Our guiding principle will be "no decision about me, without me." This will be achieved by extending "personal budgets", which will allow patients with long term conditions real choices about their care. This means that the people defining the need for care and those receiving care will make decisions over how it is provided. Here in Rugby it also means listening to Rugby people and Rugby doctors about the services provided in Rugby.

We have rightly made commitments to increase funding for the NHS. However at a time when people all across Britain are being forced to count every penny, it is only right that the NHS does the same thing and in return, it must reform.