The King's Fund response to LibDem NHS blueprint

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Commenting on the paper The NHS: a new liberal blueprint, published today by Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health Norman Lamb MP, The King's Fund acting chief executive Dr Anna Dixon said:

'This Liberal Democrat paper is further evidence of a growing consensus between the parties on health. We will go into the election with more fundamental agreement on the NHS than ever before. So whatever the outcome on polling day, voters can expect the new government to focus on extending patient choice, providing more personalised care and reforming how hospitals are paid to drive improvements in efficiency and quality.

'The main dividing line between the Liberal Democrats and the other parties is their commitment to replace primary care trusts with locally elected health boards. While this could increase local accountability, there is no evidence that it would result directly in improvements to the quality of care. Although people have strong views about changes to local services that directly affect them – like the closure of a hospital ward – it is not clear how much appetite the public have to play an active role in deciding how money is spent day to day.

'Plans to reduce the number of quangos and regulators might sound appealing – especially when finances are tight – but regulators play an important role in ensuring safety and improving quality. While there is a clear case for regulators to be better co-ordinated and for reducing the burden on providers – by sharing and making better use of data for instance – they are often an easy target for politicians.

'Norman Lamb sets out some interesting ideas about engaging staff, encouraging innovations and the smarter use of technology within health care. We look forward to seeing more detail about how the Liberal Democrats would turn these ideas into clear actions that the NHS can implement.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. 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.