Government response to NHS Future Forum

The government has accepted the core recommendations of the NHS Future Forum report on its health reforms and will now re-commit parts of the Health Bill for debate in the House of Commons.

Professor Field: the government will provide a general response today, but it will ‘take a bit longer to go through all the detail’
Professor Field: the government will provide a general response today, but it will ‘take a bit longer to go through all the detail’

A statement from the government said not all of the changes to its reform plans would require amendments to the Health Bill.

The government released the following list of key pledges on its NHS reforms:

  • Wider involvement in clinical commissioning groups. A wider range of experts will be given the power and freedom to make decisions about health services for their local community by, for example, including nurses and specialists on the boards of clinical commissioning groups.
  • Stronger safeguards against a market free-for-all. The healthcare regulator Monitor’s core duty will be to protect and promote patients’ interests, it won’t be required to promote competition as if it were an end in itself.
  • Additional safeguards against privatisation. We will never privatise the NHS, and will create a genuine level playing field to stop private companies ‘cherry-picking’ profitable NHS business. We will ensure that competition is on quality, not price.  
  • Evolution, not revolution. We will allow clinical commissioning groups to take charge of commissioning when they are ready and able, and a more phased approach to the introduction of Any Qualified Provider.
  • Greater information and choice for patients.  The Government will make clear that the people who make decisions about local services have a duty to promote patient choice. And following current pilots, the Government will make it a priority to extend personal health budgets including across health and social care.
  • Breaking down barriers within and beyond the NHS. A new duty for clinical commissioning groups to promote joined up services both within the NHS and between health, social care and other local services.
  • Investing for the future of the NHS.  We want all providers to make a fair contribution to the costs of education and training of NHS staff, but we will introduce changes carefully and take the time to develop the details right.

Prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the government had listened to the public and improved its reform programme for the NHS accordingly.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'The independent NHS Future Forum has made a number of recommendations and we are accepting them. This has been a genuine exercise and it is clear from our response today that substantial changes have been made in the interests of patients.

'The Forum confirmed that there is widespread support for the principles underpinning our plans for change: greater patient choice, "no decision about me, without me", more control for doctors, nurses and frontline professionals, a focus on quality and results for patients, more information and more clout for the public.  These changes now will help us make those principles a reality.'

Launching his NHS Future Forum report yesterday, the forum's chairman Professor Steve Field said a confidential copy of the report had been handed to the Prime Minister, deputy Prime Minister and health secretary on Friday evening.

He said the panel has also briefed the government yesterday on the main findings of the report for an hour prior to the report being published.

Professor Field said the government will provide a general response today, but it will ‘take a bit longer to go through all the detail’.

He added that the government felt the NHS Future Forum had worked well, and suggested it could continue ‘in some form’.

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