Boost public services, Blair told

28 Sep 00
The chief executive of the King's Fund has issued a stern warning to Tony Blair and the government to give full and enthusiastic support to the public services. Otherwise, says Rabbi Julia Neuberger, the NHS Plan may be in jeopardy.

29 September 2000

In an article in the Guardian she says: 'If the government wants to succeed with its NHS Plan, it must make public services seem worthwhile to a wider group of people. Ministers must show they value public sector workers, not just by saying so, but by demonstrating their commitment in practice.

'They must provide bigger pay packets, better (and broader) career opportunities, more flexible working arrangements and much more of a chance for workers at all levels to influence how services are run.'

Neuberger returned to the attack at a King's Fund fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, calling for the eradication of health inequalities to be given the same importance as reducing waiting lists.

She said the NHS Plan was inconsistent, containing lots of individual initiatives to ensure equal access to services but failing to target them at some of the groups most needing care.

'Most of them are short-term and exist at the margins of the NHS,' she said. 'Furthermore, some groups appear to have been forgotten. The government's disappointing proposals on long-term care funding and its focus on preventing ill-health among people under 75 leave older people out in the cold.'

She supported a call for a national service framework for children to be drawn up. 'There are areas to do with children and young people's health that are very different in terms of how you would deal with them, compared with the rest of the population,' she told delegates.

Health minister Yvette Cooper confirmed that officials were looking at models for programmes that would tackle patchy provision of services to teenagers, but the government did not want to get bogged down in another framework.

'We need to be able to do things without going through the whole process, which can take up to three years,' she said.


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