The Week

The Week, 17 August 2018

This week, the use of public sector data has been a central topic. On Monday, the National Data Guardian found that citizens were happy for their data to be shared for ‘the greater good’. That same day, DeepMind released the results from its partnership with Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, announcing its AI system that uses patient data could diagnose 50 eye-sight threatening diseases as accurately as doctors. Reform also published a new report outlining ways to improve data sharing across public services.

Rose Lasko-Skinner, Researcher

Reformer of the week

Lord Drayson, for saying the NHS has a “social responsibility” to maximise the benefits of its data and capture its financial value.

Reactionary of the week

John Penrose MP, who argued the public should be able to take ministers to court if they ever borrow money for day-to-day spending on public services. While he is right to seek balanced budgets, Reform research has shown that unfortunately fiscal rules do not work in practice. Instead, stronger fiscal institutions like the Office for Budget Responsibility are a better solution.   

A good week for…


On Monday, government pledged to halve rough sleeping in two years and end it by 2027.

Hospital admissions

Also on Monday, it was reported that a targeted telephone system run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals had reduced admissions by 2,500 in one year.

A bad week for…

Wage growth

On Tuesday, it was reported that real wage growth has continued to dip and is now at zero, despite unemployment reaching a record low since 1975.

Access to higher education

On Wednesday, it was reported that proportions of disadvantaged students attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010.

Quotes of the week

“If we’re to end rough sleeping, a bold, housing-led approach to tackling the problem is required, alongside a robust strategy to prevent people from becoming homeless that involves departments from across government.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis on Monday.

“We're a minority, the playing ground isn't level for us and it's vital that all potential students are given the same opportunity”

Stormzy, in reference to the scholarship programme he launched for black students at Cambridge University on Thursday. Reform has also published a report on the role universities can play in widening access.

“It is clear there is an ethical imperative to use patient data, once anonymised, for the purposes of medical research […] if your objective is to save lives this work needs to be done. But it needs to be done in a way that maintains public trust.”

Lord Drayson in The Times on Thursday

Reform’s Week

Reformer Blog

On Tuesday, Sophie Sheldon, Supervising Associate at Simmons & Simmons and Lydia Torne, Managing Associate at Simmons & Simmons authored a blog on GDPR and blockchain.

On Wednesday, Dr Nasrin Hafezparast, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Outcomes Based Healthcare and member of the Reform Advisory Board, wrote a blog on lifetime healthcare costs.

On Thursday, Dr Luke Heselwood, Researcher at Reform, published an interactive blog on data sharing within government.

Also on Thursday, Jovian Smalley, Group Manager, Engagement (Public Services) at the Information Commissioner’s Office, authored a blog highlighting the importance of data sharing in connecting services.

On Friday, Jocelyn Palmer, Programme Lead, ‘Connecting Care’ (NHS South, Central and West CSU), wrote a blog on how data sharing can improve efficiency in the NHS.


On Thursday, Reform published a new report, Sharing the benefits: how to use data effectively in the public sector.

Media coverage:

The Telegraph

Public Finance

Civil Service World

UK Authority

Other Media

On Friday, Eleonora Harwich, Director of Research at Reform, appeared on Sky News to discuss the Government’s new project to tackle the problems in Britain’s 10 most challenging prisons.

Eleonora Harwich will also appear on London Live on Friday evening to discuss prison funding.