The Week

The Week, 19 April 2018

This week the health service, the courts and the rest of the criminal justice system discussed the potential of technology to improve the quality and value for money of public services.

Reformer of the week

Labour Welsh Assembly Member Lee Waters, who argued on Wednesday that the advance of digital technology and automation is a force to be understood and harnessed rather than resisted.

Good week for

NHS reform

On Tuesday, Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, argued that any future funding boost for the NHS should be used to “fix the cracks” in the Service rather than “paper over them”.


On Thursday, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute predicted strong benefits from artificial intelligence for healthcare and other public services. It predicted greater benefits in public services than in some other business sectors such as aerospace and defence.

Bad week for

The NHS’ digital future

On Tuesday, the Public Accounts Committee found that the NHS was still ill-prepared for cyber attacks for many reasons, including confusion between national and local management.

Legal Luddites

On Tuesday, it was reported that senior judges are stepping up efforts to win support among their colleagues for digital reforms to courts, including online hearings and the replacement of paper by data files.

Quotes of the week

“In addition to being more joined up and less fragmented, the NHS of the future needs to be proactive rather than passive on prevention, and empowering rather than paternalistic on helping people look after themselves.”

Professor Stephen Powis, writing on Tuesday

“Capturing the potential impact of these [artificial intelligence] techniques requires solving multiple problems. Technical limitations include the need for a large volume and variety of often labeled training data, although continued advances are already helping address these. Tougher perhaps may be the readiness and capability challenges for some organizations. Societal concern and regulation, for example about privacy and use of personal data, can also constrain AI use in banking, insurance, health care, and pharmaceutical and medical products, as well as in the public and social sectors, if these issues are not properly addressed.”

The McKinsey Global Institute, writing on Thursday

Reform’s Week


On Sunday, Alexander Hitchcock, Research Manager at Reform, appeared on BBC One’s The Big Questions, speaking on the question ‘Is the NHS still fit for purpose?’.

On Sunday, Tom Richmond, Senior Research Fellow at Reform, appeared on Talk Radio, discussing Reform’s latest report, ‘The great training robbery: assessing the first year of the apprenticeship levy’.

Upcoming Events

On Wednesday 23 May, Reform will be holding our annual Health Conference on ‘Moving towards a transformed NHS’. Full details of confirmed speakers can be found on our website. If you are interested in attending, please email