This year’s planning guidance for the NHS once again illustrates the cyclical nature of health policy. The dire state of the NHS’s finances and the drastic measures now being taken to fix them mark the end of some of the signature policies of the last five years.
The first casualty is the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Although the death knell has been tolling for a while on some aspects of the Lansley reforms – in particular, the emphasis on choice and competition at the core of the Act – the idea that the NHS ought to be given greater ‘autonomy’, with professionals and providers ‘liberated’ from central control had broadly survived.
The planning guidance and other recent documents from the national bodies – with their emphasis on control, compliance and national plans – bring this chapter firmly to a close.