Medicopolitical Digest

Medicopolitical digest

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 03 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1518
  1. Linda Beecham

    Health secretary rejects royal commission on the NHS

    The health secretary, Mrs Virginia Bottomley, has rejected the call from the National Consumer Council for a royal commission on the NHS. The minister said that “thanks to the health reforms, power in the new health service has been shifted towards patients and their advocates. The patient's charter is building on this, making the NHS more user friendly and responsive.”

    The approach in Britain, the health secretary says, “is based firmly on local priority setting within a coherent national policy framework.” In a letter to the council Mrs Bottomley said that Britain was also leading the field in improving the knowledge base of the NHS. No other country was doing as much to establish mechanisms for evaluating what worked and what did not.

    The minister quoted the editorial in the BMJ which described five key driving forces transforming the face of medicine (20 October, p 1099). Four of them, she said, were directly relevant to the current debate: the power of health purchasers, the rise of the informed patient, the impact of new technology, and a shift of boundaries between health and medicine.


    The shadow health secretary, Mrs Margaret Beckett, has called on the health secretary to dissociate herself from the reported comments of the Conservative party's vice chairman, Mr John Maples, who suggested that the government should give the NHS “zero media coverage.” This was clear proof, Mrs Beckett said, that the government's health service changes had been a failure. It also tied in with the introduction of gagging clauses into the contracts of health service staff …

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