Still a long way to go on NHS reforms - The King's Fund responds to Prime Minister's health speech

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The King's Fund today said it was too early to make a definitive judgement on the government's record on health care over the past nine years following Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech on the state of the NHS.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'Under Tony Blair the government has made significant strides in reforming the health service with big reductions in waiting times, and progress has been made on improving care in cancer, heart disease and mental health.

'This has been backed by the unprecedented levels of funding the government has ploughed into the health service in recent years and it deserves credit for having the courage to make this extra investment as the service had long been under-funded.

'But there is no firm evidence as yet to show the reforms have led to a marked improvement in the nation's health and there are still important problems to be solved. Modernisation is well underway but the job is far from complete.'

He added: 'Some aspects of the reform agenda have the potential to improve patient care. But all of this could be unhinged by the widespread financial deficits facing the health service. Large underlying deficits in some local areas need to be tackled as a matter of urgency, while the reforms will continue to flounder if the government fails to get doctors, nurses and other health professionals fully on board.'

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 an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.