Milburn launches Beveridge Mk II

13 Apr 00
Health Secretary Alan Milburn launched a countrywide consultation programme with NHS staff and patients this week and said it should lead to a new Beveridge report that will shape the health service for the next 50 years.

14 April 2000

Milburn said the new National Plan should be as groundbreaking as the 1942 report by economist William Beveridge, which laid the foundation for the NHS and the modern welfare state. Earlier in the week, the health secretary said he would not rule out greater use of the private sector, particularly in the long-term care of the elderly.

Over the next three months, staff from every primary care group, trust and health authority will take part in the listening exercise, giving their views on the prime minister's five challenges to the service – better partnership, performance, patient care and prevention, and re-casting the responsibilities of doctors and nurses.

Milburn said the NHS would retain its traditional values but had to treat patients as consumers. 'We have to deliver the goods. And we have to do so quickly. What I want to see emerge from your work is clear proposals for visible improvements over the next few years, not in some parts of the NHS, but in all.'

The plan will be shaped by results from the consultation and the work of six Modernisation Action Teams, made up of doctors, nurses, patients, managers and Department of Health officials.

Milburn insisted the teams would not simply follow the government's agenda. 'The plan will be shaped by frontline experience – not government dictating changes but working with staff and patients on delivering changes,' he said.

The department also promised £40m for more airline-style hospital appointment booking schemes, ensuring that at least two specialities in every acute trust introduce the new system.

Health minister John Denham wrote to the British Medical Association this week asking for a meeting on improving doctors' productivity. In the letter he outlined ten areas for discussion, including how doctors could change the way they worked and increase the amount of time they spent treating patients.

The BMA was due to hold a conference on April 13 to debate the future funding of the health service.


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