The Week

The Week, 1 September 2017

This week highlighted the role that technology and science can play in reforming public services and spurring economic growth. Parents used the Department of Education’s online platform to sign up for free weekly childcare. An independent life-sciences strategy called for the NHS to work with industry to improve outcomes for patients.

Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher

Reformer of the week

Department for Education, for signing 200,000 parents up to the new online childcare voucher service.

Reactionary of the week

Jeremy Corbyn MP, for vowing to protect the triple lock on the State Pension and winter fuel allowance. This would spend scarce resources on the wealthiest in society.

Good week for…

Working families

On Wednesday, the number of households in which no one works has fallen to the lowest level since modern records began in 1996.

Leading the world in life sciences

On Wednesday, an independent review outlined a vision for how the Government can work with the life-sciences industry to deliver world-leading outcomes and economic growth.

Bad week for…

Getting value for money when hiring GPs

On Wednesday, it was revealed that the NHS is planning to pay recruitment agencies up to £100 million to source 5,000 new GPs, despite evidence showing that other healthcare professionals can do as much as 50 per cent of a GP’s role.

Deaths related to deprivation

On Wednesday, Office for National Statistics figures revealed that people living in deprived parts of England and Wales are more than twice as likely to die from an avoidable cause than the most well off.

Quotes of the week

“Government demands specificity and a guarantee of results which you can’t do [when you are innovating]. Government would never have funded the transition from Old Masters to Impressionism…or funded charter schools. You’d certainly never have the diversity of programmes and we don’t know which are going to be the successful ones.”

Michael Bloomberg, speaking to the Financial Times, reported on Tuesday.

“AI is likely to be used widely in healthcare and it should be the ambition for the UK to develop and test integrated AI systems that provide real-time data better than human monitoring and prediction of a wide range of patient outcomes in conditions such as mental health, cancer and inflammatory disease.”

Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, launched on Wednesday.

“Today’s economic outlook is uncertain. The political climate, in which protectionism is preferred to fair and free trade, is a major risk. While we were strong enough to deal with the crisis a decade ago, we are not in the same position today.”

Alastair Darling, writing in the Financial Times on Thursday.

Reform’s Week


On ThursdayReform held a roundtable exploring opportunities for innovation in public services, led by Liz Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.


On Monday, Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, wrote an op-ed for the Yorkshire Post arguing that police in Yorkshire need to embrace technology to combat rising cybercrime.

On Wednesday, Kate Laycock, Researcher at Reform, wrote an op-ed for City AM, arguing that automation of the NHS can help put its house in order.

Also on Wednesday, Jim Boyd, Deputy Director at Reform, appeared on Sky News to discuss rising social care costs and Reform’s proposal for a Later Life Care Fund to help the young meet their social care costs in later years.

The Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Luke Heselwood, Research Assistant at Reform, argued that blockchain could become the future of the passport, increasing security and reducing delays.

On Wednesday, Kate Laycock wrote a blog further detailing the case for automation in the NHS, following her article in City AM.

On Thursday, Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform, argued that a shift from lag to live data would be transformative for the school workforce.