The Week

The Week, 22 June 2018

The Prime Minister’s speech on the NHS this week offered considerable spending increases but a retreat from reform thinking. She specifically criticised competition as a means to make services more innovative and accountable, despite its commonplace use across the public sector.

Maisie Borrows, Senior Researcher

Reformers of the week

Jeremy Corbyn, for pointing out at PMQs that spending has to be paid for, either through higher borrowing or higher taxation.

Lord Prior, for calling for radical reform of the NHS alongside any additional funding.

Reactionary of the week

The Conservative Party, for framing its additional funding promise as the answer to the NHS’s current challenges, rather than much-needed reform.

Good week for…

AI to improve fraud investigations

On Friday, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it is now using an AI-powered document review system, which is 2,000 times faster than a human lawyer and much cheaper.

Primary care

Also on Friday, the CQC found that much of primary care services have embraced innovative ways of working, such as the development of urgent care services to avoid unnecessary admission to hospital.

Bad week for…

Bed blocking in hospitals

On Sunday, it was reported that Britain would build its first “rehab village” for patients recovering from surgery to reduce bed blocking in hospitals.

Reducing reoffending

On Friday, the Justice Select Committee found that the Transforming Rehabilitation programme had failed to meet its aim of reducing reoffending primarily because the payments-by-results mechanism does not provide sufficient incentives for providers to invest in rehabilitation. The Committee recommends that the MoJ amend the mechanism and take steps to address underperformance.


“Simply putting more money into the NHS and hoping for the best will not work. With funding must come radical reform. We need a shift from ‘diagnose and treat’ to ‘predict and prevent’. Care must be joined up around – and tailored to – the patient.”

Lord Prior, Chairman of UCL Hospital and former Conservative Health and Business Minister, in a speech on Tuesday.

“We have delivered innovation, flexibility and quality in public services… The challenge is to convince others of these truths. If voters, tax payers, service users and politicians do not believe we can deliver high quality services and deliver value to taxpayers, demand will shrivel. If Government cannot be convinced that they need to rebalance risk and reward, suppliers will simply take their services elsewhere and supply will evaporate…If, on the other hand, we can reconnect with our customers, if we can reset our relationship with Government, our industry can start growing once again and contribute greatly to the country’s future prosperity.”

Rupert Soames, Group CEO of Serco, in a speech at the BSA Annual Lecture on Wednesday.

“How much is UK health data worth? The government has been told it is easily more than £10 billion. On the black market, patient records trade for $1,000 a pop. Accountants are now building formal data valuation methods. Given the backdrop, the Treasury’s decision to wish the problem away is criminal. What kind of balance sheet review ignores so valuable an asset? Attach a price and the data might not only help pay for the NHS but save more lives in the process.”

Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor of The Times, writing on Saturday.

Reform’s Week


On Thursday, Reform published a report, A degree of uncertainty: an investigation into grade inflation in universities.

Highlights of media coverage:

BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The Telegraph.


The Times.

Other media coverage:

A longer op-ed piece in The Times.


The Daily Mail.

Times Higher Education.

Education Investor.


Department for Education.

Talk Radio.

Global media coverage:

Education news.

Two Eggz.

Reformer Blogs

On Wednesday, Luke Heselwood, Researcher at Reform, authored a blog on creating smarter policy within the Civil Service.

On Thursday, Tom Richmond, Senior Research Fellow at Reform, wrote a blog summarising the findings of Reform’s universities report.

Upcoming Events

On Monday, the Rt Hon David Lidington CBE MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will give a speech on ‘Reform and transformation: the future of public service delivery’.

On TuesdayReform will host a roundtable with Kit Malthouse MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, on ‘Universal credit and what it means for housing’. This event will be held in partnership with Home Group.

Also on TuesdayReform will host a roundtable with Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Business and Industry, on ‘Supporting UK businesses post-Brexit: how government and industry can work better together’. This event will be held in partnership with Baxter.