The Week

The Week, 10 November 2017

This week’s landmark announcement on NHS reform was much more important than the usual pre-Budget calls for “more money”. On Monday, the Service announced that some London patients will have immediate access to GPs via smartphones, paid for by the taxpayer. The decision embodies the use of technology and private sector partnership (with the company Babylon in this case) which will drive so much of the improvement of healthcare.

Andrew Haldenby, Director

Reformer of the week

The sponsors of the ‘GP at hand‘ app that is currently being trialled in Fulham.

Reactionary of the week

Simon Stevens, for joining the pre-Budget lobbying for extra NHS resources. He is actually complaining about the spending levels that he agreed to, in 2014, based on reforms that he is responsible for delivering. If those reforms are behind schedule, that is not the Chancellor’s fault.

Good week for…

Sobering fiscal analysis in the UK…

On Tuesday, the NAO noted that the UK has spent £222 billion on debt interest payments since 2009-10, equivalent to twice the annual spend on the NHS in England.

… and in the US

Also on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the American deficit had risen in 2017, having fallen steadily since the financial crisis.

Reform overseas

On Wednesday, in a review of the need for reform in Brazil, Martin Wolf noted that the government needed control of the “numbers and pay of civil servants”.

Bad week for…

Health reform

On Monday, a leading academic warned that the failure to use data to improve services in the NHS could be a greater risk to patients than the misuse of that data.

The Chancellor

On Tuesday, the NAO also showed that a rise in inflation by 1 per cent over the next five years would increase UK borrowing costs by £26 billion.

Good use of NHS resources

On Wednesday, Jeremy Hunt announced new league tables for NHS procurement, showing that some trusts pay £16 for a pack of rubber gloves while others pay 35p.

Quotes of the week

“Brazil needs comprehensive economic and fiscal reform. The most important economic reforms include: opening up a relatively closed economy; tax reform; labour market reform; higher investment in infrastructure; and policies aimed at raising national savings. The latter connects with the fiscal reforms. These must include a comprehensive pension reform, to bring spending under control. A funded pension scheme could raise national savings. The government must also have the freedom to control the numbers and pay of civil servants. Doing all this would liberate resources for other areas”.

Martin Wolf, in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

“Time for Mr Stevens to step down as an unelected public servant if he wants to campaign for more NHS funding or opine on BREXIT. #soundmoney”.

Nick Macpherson, former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, tweeting on Wednesday.

Reform’s Week

The Reformer Blog

On Wednesday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, asserted that the police complaints system desperately needs reform.

On Friday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, argued that the time is ripe for Government to re-energise public sector reform.


On Wednesday, Maisie Borrows, Researcher at Reform, appeared on BBC Radio Kent to discuss restricting prescriptions for over-the-counter medicines.


On Thursday, Andrew Haldenby attended the Belfast launch of the Deloitte / Reform publication The State of the State, attended by senior members of the Northern Irish Civil Service and public sector.