The Week

The Week, 6 July 2018

On Thursday this week, Michael Barber (speaking for Reform) and Meg Hillier MP separately explained how to get value for money for the £800 billion that the UK Government now spends every year. Not least, government should routinely expect public services to provide data on the outcomes that they are achieving with their funds. Meg Hillier said: “Too often we see departments collecting data as an afterthought or after they have been called out for not understanding the outcomes of their strategies or spending.”

Reformers of the week

Michael Barber and Meg Hillier. The Barber Review of value for money in public spending, and the Public Accounts Committee annual report, are both must-reads.

Good week for

Balanced commentary on the NHS’ 70th birthday.

On Thursday, an NAO blog argued that “more funding is not of itself the solution” to the future of the Service. While the NHS works in isolation from other public services, notably local government, the extra funding will not make a difference.

Joined-up government

On Thursday, the annual report of the Public Accounts Committee also warned that government cannot solve big social problems (such as ill-health) when it does so through separated initiatives by different departments.

Bad week for

Civil Service competence

On Thursday, the PAC warned that the short average tenure of senior civil servants, at only two years, “results in a lack of embedded knowledge and expertise in government”.

NHS patients

On Thursday, the PAC noted that the political focus on NHS budgets and staffing risks taking away focus from patient care.

Quotes of the week

“Historically, reform has been transmitted from government, or NHS central command, through to institutions via their managers. This route will be too slow by itself to be effective. Quality of care, costs and productivity are determined at the front line …. For politicians, here’s the paradox: the best way to sustain the UK’s favourite institution to a healthy centenary may well be to let go.”

Jennifer Dixon, CEO of the Health Foundation, writing in the FT on Monday

“Le défi majeur de notre époque est celui des technologies basées sur les données: une technologie extraordinaire qui transforme notre économie et notre société de façons inattendues.” (“And in our era, our challenge is these data-driven technologies that are transforming our economy and society beyond recognition.”)

Matthew Hancock MP, speaking in French in Paris on Thursday

“Following the recently announced and much vaunted long-term funding plan, there needs to be serious focus on the change and improvement needed in many areas of the NHS. The handling of the finances and the huge pressures on recruitment all keep the system focused on the staff and the institutions and take away focus on patients. We need to see the focus move towards prevention, effectiveness and the patient experience.”

The Public Accounts Committee, writing on Thursday

Reform’s Week


On Wednesday, Reform released a video proposing exciting ideas to reform the NHS as it celebrates its 70th birthday. The NHS at 70: Reform ideas for the future features a number of health experts discussing how technology, data and new models of care can transform the future NHS.

Reformer Blog

On Monday, Paul Finnis, Chief Executive Officer at The Learning Foundation, wrote a blog on the power of EdTech in transforming outcomes for learning.

Also on Monday, Naimish Gohil, Chief Executive Officer at Satchel, wrote a blog on the positive benefits of EdTech.

On Tuesday, Eleonora Harwich, Director of Research and Head of Digital and Tech Innovation at Reform, wrote the second blog to discuss the value of NHS data, following a panel event held by Reform, ‘Making NHS data work for everyone’.

On Thursday, Professor Rosemary Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab and Director at EDUCATE, and Dr Mutlu Cukurova, Lecturer in Digital Technologies in Education and Learning Scientist at the UCL Knowledge Lab, authored a blog on The achievement gap and AI augmented online tutoring.


On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s File on 4, as part of its programme on the history of private involvement in the NHS.

On Wednesday, Reform’s report on how EdTech can help close the opportunity gap was featured on the news page of EDUCATE.

On Thursday, Maisie Borrows, Senior Researcher at Reform appeared on BBC Radio Newcastle to talk about the future of the NHS.

Also on Thursday,  Andrew Haldenby appeared on BBC Radio 2’s The Jeremy Vine Show on Thursday. He argued that while financial pressures could force the NHS to consider greater charging, the much greater priority in the short term is to improve the Service’s productivity.


On Wednesday, Reform hosted a roundtable on ‘Reshaping Government for the 21st Century’ with the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. This event was held in partnership with Deloitte.

On Thursday, Reform held an event on ‘Public sector productivity: driving value for taxpayers’ money’, led by Sir Michael Barber. This event was also held in partnership with Deloitte.

Upcoming Events

On Tuesday, Reform will be holding a dinner on ‘Lessons from Scandinavia for the future organisation of the NHS in England’.

On Thursday, Reform will be hosting a roundtable event on ‘Building on success: the next stage of NHS reform’, led by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England. This event will be held in partnership with BT.