The Week

The Week, 27 April 2018

One of Reform’s current areas of research is the better use of data to improve public service delivery. This week showed that new data can underpin exciting developments such as artificial intelligence but only if it is used responsibly. On Tuesday, a new report, ‘Data for Public Benefit’, urged data use to always be purposeful, proportionate and responsible. Government supported this message, by announcing that, in addition to its new Artificial Intelligence Sector Deal, it is also establishing a Centre for Data Ethics to keep data use in check.

Sarah Timmis, Researcher, Reform

Reformer of the week

Baroness Tessa Jowell for submitting her health data to the Universal Cancer Databank and explaining to others the benefits of sharing health data to support research and develop better treatments for cancer.

Good week for

Patient waiting times

On Monday, the NHS announced a new “traffic-light system” for managing hospital referrals, which shows GPs which hospitals have lengthy waiting times and allows them to refer patients to the hospitals with more availability.

Electronic health records

On Wednesday, County Durham and Darlington became the latest NHS trust to achieve the health service’s target of operating a paperless system for hospital referrals, with 100 per cent of appointments now being booked online.

Rising above politics

Also on Wednesday, political parties gathered behind a ban on junk food ‘buy-one-get-on-free’ deals in an attempt to tackle the child obesity.

Bad week for

Working-class students

On Monday, the NUS argued that the cost of university is higher for working-class students, who have to borrow more to cover basic expenses and end up leaving university with more debt than those from middle-class families.

Millennial loneliness

On Tuesday, new research showed that young people aged 16-24 felt lonely more often than any other age group of adults, with implications on mental health and employment.

Violent crime

On Thursday, new figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that, while most types of crime have stayed at similar levels since 2016, police recorded knife crime, an offence thought to be relatively well documented by officers, rose by 22 per cent.


“We are well past the point of debating whether digital has a place in general practice. Without it, primary care may no longer be sustainable. As GPs, we should be embracing the technologies that make access easier for our patients and also reduce the pressures on our working lives”.

Dr Murray Ellender in The Times on Monday.

“My Lords, the Germans will make smart cars; the United States and Canada will focus on the internet. We have a real opportunity in the United Kingdom to do ethical AI, not least when we consider the areas of finance, law, research and biotech. Does my noble friend agree that when it comes to AI in the UK, the only way is ethics?”

Lord Holmes of Richmond, in House of Lords debate on Artificial Intelligence on Thursday.

Reform’s Week

Reformer Blog

On Wednesday, Luke Heselwood, Researcher at Reform, published a blog that considered new ways to tackle homelessness.


On Tuesday, Reform held a partners dinner with Nicky Morgan MP on the theme of successful economy and business policy in the context of Brexit.


On Tuesday, Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, referred to Reform research on social care funding in an appearance before the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

Last week, Eleonora Harwich, Head of Digital and Tech Innovation at Reform was mentioned by The British Journal of Healthcare Computing in their coverage of the HIMSS UK Executive Summit panel.

Upcoming Events

On Tuesday, Reform is hosting a roundtable event with Sara Thornton, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, on ‘Digital transformation: smarter blue light services’.

On Thursday, Reform will hold an event with Carl Creswell, Director of Better Regulation at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on innovation friendly regulation of emerging technologies.

We are delighted to announce that our annual health conference will be taking place on Wednesday 23rd May in London on the theme ‘Moving towards a transformed NHS’. Panels this year will be looking at personalised care and patient choice; healthcare transformation through technology; the role of data sharing in spreading innovation and looking for a new model for integrated, out-of-hospital care. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers which can be found on our website. If you are interested in attending, please register your interest at

Party Conferences 2018

Join us at the 2018 Party conferences. Our work covers all of the important public services including health, education, criminal justice and welfare; cross-cutting issues such as technology in public services and diversity; and economic questions such as skills, housing and the industrial strategy.