Magazine article Public Finance

Reform 'Or Put NHS Founding Values' at Risk

Magazine article Public Finance

Reform 'Or Put NHS Founding Values' at Risk

Article excerpt

The NHS has two years to implement the government's radical market and choice reforms or else risk undermining the 'founding values' of a free service based on need, Health secretary Patricia Hewitt stated this week.

Delivering a lecture at the London School of Economics, Hewitt argued that the introduction of hospital competition for patients - which starts in earnest in January 2006 was necessary to embed' a new patient-led culture into the NHS.

That cultural change would have to be completed by the end of 2008, said Hewitt - when the current record increases in funding end and future funding 'resumes a more normal course'.

Hewitt said that turning away from the new policies now could spell disaster. 'Having asked people to pay more for the NHS, and having failed to deliver the transformation we promised, we would open the way to those who do not share our values and commitment.

'If we don't make changes, radical changes, others will - but they will do so in ways that wrench it from its founding values,' she warned.

Hewitt also rejected the notion that the level of deficits in the NHS - forecast to reach £650m - were caused by the introduction of the new payment by results funding mechanism, in which funding follows the patient. …

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