The Week

The Week, 12 January 2018

Some have responded this week to the “NHS winter crisis” by calling for higher spending via a new hypothecated tax. It would be mistaken, however, to abandon the Service’s good reform plan in favour of a new funding model that would take years to implement. A Reform report this week shows that technology, specifically artificial intelligence, can make significant improvements if the NHS improves its management of data.

Maisie Borrows, Researcher, Reform

Reformer of the week…

The Financial Times for calling proposals for a hypothecated health and care tax “economically ill-advised”.

Reactionaries of the week…

Sarah Wollaston MP, Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee, and Nick Boles MP, Former Business Minister, who argued for a large cash injection into the NHS through a hypothecated health and care tax.

Good week for…


On Tuesday, HMP Parc Prison announced it would be hosting parent-teacher evenings to help fathers improve their relationship with children and help schools understand the difficulties pupils face when a parent is in prison.

Blockchain technology

On Wednesday, three pharmaceutical firms said they were working together to use blockchain to speed up clinical tests of new drugs.

Bad week for…

Yorkshire devolution

On Tuesday, the South Yorkshire devolution deal faced more delays after Barnsley and Doncaster council asked government to postpone the mayoral election due to happen in May.


On Thursday, Martin Wolf argued that re-nationalisation of public services would be unlikely to improve quality, would be disruptive and would not solve the challenges they face.


“Officials have traditionally seen hypothecation as either a lie—because the revenues from the tax are not in fact earmarked—or undesirable, because linking spending to uncertain revenue streams would services with money in good years but starve them of cash during a recession, arguable when they need it most.”

The Financial Times, on Wednesday.

“Reforms across the NHS are making a real difference. I total commend what is happening at Solihull. The key to solving the long-term pressures on our emergency departments is to be better at treating people in the community. The growth in emergency admissions in the vanguard areas of the NHS is about half the national average. This is the Five Year Forward View that we are rolling out across the country. We need to celebrate the successes.”

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday.

“I have had a 5 per cent reduction, and in year, in fact, of policing budgets, and I have had no increase over the last three years… I feel as though we have done more with the same, to the point of taking on a 30 per cent increase in reporting without any extra money and in fact a 5 per cent reduction in real terms. But it is not always about the volume and the amount of money; it is about the sustainability of that budget agreement and arrangement.”

Commander David Clark, National Coordinator for Economic Crime, City of London, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday.

“This report maps out a very practical way forward, the steps that actually have to be taken, for the NHS being able to exploit the extraordinary potential of AI technology. These building blocks are of critical importance.”

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, speaking at Reform on Thursday.

Reform’s Week


On Thursday, Reform launched ‘Thinking on its own: AI in the NHS, which highlights the areas where artificial intelligence (AI) could help the NHS become more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients. The report was covered by a variety of media:

• The Independent

• The Register


• UK Authority

• Government Computing

Also on Thursday, two blogs were written on this report by Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Chair, Science and Technology Committee, and Luke Heselwood, Researcher at Reform.

Other Media

On 4 January, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, wrote an article for The Telegraph, arguing that the NHS “winter crisis” should hasten reforms to the underlying issues in the Service.‎

On 5 January, Alexander Hitchcock, Senior Researcher at Reform, appeared on Sky News to argue that the NHS needs a new model of care, shifting more services into the community, rather than more funding.

On Wednesday, Maisie Borrows also appeared on Sky News to discuss how a long-term strategy focussed on moving care away from the acute sector could ease the pressure on hospitals.

Andrew Haldenby, wrote in the Financial Times arguing against equating better care with more funding through a hypothecated NHS tax. The Week then quoted this argument in article on the pros and cons of this idea.

Eleonora Harwich, Head of Digital and Technological Innovation at Reform, was interviewed by Public Technology where she discussed the Government Digital Service, data-sharing and artificial intelligence in the healthcare system.

Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Maisie Borrows wrote a blog explaining how improving patient flow to discharge can ease pressures on A&E.


On ThursdayReform held a panel event to launch the AI in healthcare report, introduced with a keynote speech by Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee. The session was chaired by Hetan Shah, Executive Director, the Royal Statistical Society. The panel also included Maxine MacKintosh, Co-Founder, One HealthTech and Data Science PhD student, University College London, Dr Navin Ramachandran, Honorary Senior Lecturer UCL CHIME, Healthcare Specialist IOTA Foundation and Eleonora Harwich. A video of the event can be found here.

Upcoming events

Following the launch of our report ‘Joining the elite: How top universities can enhance social mobility’, Reform is pleased to be hosting an event on the role of universities in promoting social mobility on 26 January with:

• David Lammy MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Tottenham

• Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive, The Russell Group

• Professor Vikki Boliver, Director of Research – Professor and Deputy Head of School, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University

This event will be live-streamed, so follow our Twitter page @reformthinktank. To attend, please email