Magazine article Public Finance

NHS Reforms 'At Risk' from Political Change

Magazine article Public Finance

NHS Reforms 'At Risk' from Political Change

Article excerpt

Serious doubts over the government's commitment to its health service reforms could emerge once Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves office, CIPFA conference delegates were told.

Niall Dickson, chair of the King's Fund health think-tank, said that the number of politicians, senior advisers and officials committed to reform plans, such as 'choice' and a commissioner/provider split, is 'relatively small'.

Dickson cited Blair, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and adviser Paul Corrigan as among a small group of steadfast 'believers' in the market-driven reforms trialled and implemented by Number 10 and the Department of Health in recent years.

'Beneath that, there isn't a huge commitment to some of these ideas, so there is a real question about how far the momentum for some of these changes will stretch when Blair goes,' he warned on June 15.

However, Dickson said he did not view all elements of the reforms as a 'swing door' through which ministers could go back.

Dickson believes that Blair's likely handover of power next year will be blighted by the fact that government is caught in a 'political pincer'. …

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