The King's Fund statement in response to Andrew Lansley's speech to conference

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Responding to Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's speech to Conservative party conference this afternoon, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'The NHS is about to enter the toughest financial period of its life. The Conservatives are right to start by looking for savings that will not hit frontline care. But although we know that there are efficiency savings that could be made to the NHS estate and to back office functions, those alone won't be enough to bridge the gap between future NHS budgets and the cost of future demand for care.

'Whichever party forms the next government will have to address how clinical care can be delivered for less, without affecting quality or equity.

'Health care is a complex business and it needs to be well managed. We must not fall into the trap of thinking all clinicians are good and all managers are bad, that would be both simplistic and harmful. For example, if we are to devolve power and responsibility from the centre we will need good arrangements for regulation and monitoring to ensure patients are protected and high quality maintained.

'Andrew Lansley is right to call for a focus on outcomes but it would be a mistake to imply that targets have done more harm than good. All well-run organisations have targets, and there is evidence that NHS targets have worked to improve services in ways that are important to patients – like reducing waiting times.'

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.