Letter to The Times about NHS reform

Letter hand over

08 / 02 / 2021

Sir,

Further to your report on reform of the NHS in England (“Ministers to seize control of the NHS”, News, Feb 6), health leaders remain positive about the direction of travel of recent years as it promotes collaboration and greater local leadership. They view the long-trailed legislation as the next step in the process of improving integration of our services.

Throughout this time (including before the pandemic) the government has openly considered whether it needs more power over the NHS’s national regulators. The suggestion that somehow this power for ministers would have improved the response of the NHS to the pandemic will strike health leaders as a little strange, particularly as they are providing a remarkable level of first-dose vaccinations while also responding to the continued high level of Covid-19 infections.

There can be much that frustrates our members about their regulators but they valued the clear and rapid scaling up of a major incident response across the NHS last January and February, which meant that the NHS was able to respond to the rising level of infections in March and April. There will of course be lessons for us all, the government and the NHS, with regard to the management of the pandemic, and the government has been clear that it will instigate the process of inquiry and reflection at the appropriate point in the future.

Danny Mortimer
Chief executive, NHS Confederation

As published in The Times on Monday 8 February 2021

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