The King's Fund comments on the government's next steps to reform the NHS

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Commenting on the government's next steps in its plan to reform the NHS, published today, Chris Ham, chief executive of The King's Fund, said:

'The government has announced some positive steps today to help manage some of the risks involved in a radical reform of the health system in England.

'We're pleased that the government has recognised the inherent risks present in the NHS White Paper proposals and taken steps to mitigate against some of these. In particular testing key proposals before fully rolling them out, as we and others recommended, will provide a much more robust base on which to build the new system. It is also very positive that the government has recognised the importance of ensuring that the skills and expertise of staff currently in primary care trusts should not be lost in the transition to the new structure.

'We also welcome the stronger role signalled for local authorities including wider scrutiny powers and the commitment around pathfinder GP consortia, the introduction of early implementation of health and well-being boards and the establishment of a Provider Development Authority to support the move to an all-foundation trust hospital sector.

'While the government has recognised the need to ensure that better integration lies at the heart of improved care for many patients – what is not yet clear is whether the incentives in the new system and regulatory framework will allow integrated services to grow, rather than stand in the way of their evolution.

'We would disagree with the assertion that structural changes will help to meet the productivity challenge and the ambitions of the government's QIPP agenda*. While proposals are being phased in more carefully over four years, we share the concerns set out by the Health Select Committee yesterday, that they will still act as a distraction from delivering the enormous productivity improvements required across the system.'

Notes to editors

Notes to editors 

* QIPP – Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention QIPP is working at a national, regional and local level to support clinical teams and NHS organisations to improve the quality of care they deliver while making efficiency savings that can be reinvested in the service to deliver year on year quality improvements

1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585. If you are calling out-of-hours, please ring 07584 146035. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.