New health minister Lamb backs greater private role in NHS

New health minister Norman Lamb backed greater private sector involvement in the NHS in his first public appearance since taking on the role.

Mr Lamb: ‘There is innovation from new insurgents. We need to embrace that.’

Mr Lamb, who made headlines last year when he threatened to resign over proposals for NHS reform set out in the Health Bill, gave no indication that he would attempt to unpick the reforms when he spoke at a health and wellbeing board event at The King’s Fund in central London on Tuesday.

Asked about greater private sector involvement in the NHS, he said: ‘I’m not a great fan of monopolies, in either the public or the private sector. If there’s never any challenge to the structure provided there’s a danger people can become complacent.

‘There is innovation from new insurgents. We need to embrace that.’

Mr Lamb was asked how happy he was with NHS reforms and whether there was anything he would like to change.

He said: ‘These reforms provide the basis for a fundamental shift towards a much more integrated care model. I raised specific concerns about one element of the reforms, the pace of change of commissioning and wanted to ensure change would only happen in cases where people were ready and willing for it. That change was secured.’

Mr Lamb went on to say that he hoped he could provide the ‘oomph’ from the centre of government to embed integrated care. He hoped to get a round table of experts together to advise him on how best it could work.

He said he was inspired by work already done in Torbay, Devon, to pool health and social care budgets.

Editor's blog: New coalition government health team but no change in Health Act emphasis

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