The King's Fund statement on the Health Bill

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Commenting on the introduction of direct payments in health care contained in the Health Bill published today, The King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson said:

'Direct payments offer the potential for patients to have more control over the care they receive, allowing treatment to be truly personalised. However, their use won’t be straightforward. Getting the initial payment level right will be important as will deciding what restrictions to place on the kind of treatment a patient is allowed to purchase with tax payers’ money, and from whom.

'The pilots must be genuine with no decision to extend the scheme until all the results have been thoroughly evaluated and all the implications understood.'

The Bill also introduces an NHS Constitution, the full text of which is expected next week. Niall Dickson commented:

'A constitution for the NHS is a welcome move. It will set out clearly for patients their rights and how they can exercise them. By setting out in one document the legal rights which patients and the public can expect from the NHS it has the potential to empower them to demand a better service and will be a useful source for advocates and patient advisers.

'The constitution will set out the core principles and values underpinning the health service. and because it will apply to anyone providing NHS care, it should help to allay some critics’ fears about the use of the private sector to treat NHS patients. The principles are remarkably similar to those set out in the NHS Act 1946, reaffirming that these are enduring principles fundamental to a publicly funded universal system of health care.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs 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 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.