Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Memoirs of New Labour’s NHS chief

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 12 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6579
  1. David Hunter, professor of health policy and management, Durham University, Durham
  1. d.j.hunter{at}

This book on NHS reorganisation, subtitled “the chief executive’s account of reform 2000 to 2006,” doesn’t impress David Hunter

The title is the raciest thing about this book. Anyone looking for a kiss and tell exposé of the rise and fall of the NHS chief executive who presided over successive waves of reorganisation under New Labour at its most testosterone charged will be disappointed. This is a measured, selective, and understated account of six years of continuous restructuring.

Although some of New Labour’s changes, notably the focus on health improvement and leadership, are to be commended, many of them, in particular the growing obsession with choice and competition, were either gratuitous or based on ideology masquerading as evidence. They may also have set the NHS on a path that could result in its ultimate destruction if the Tory led government’s plans come to fruition. Nigel Crisp is too loyal and too much of a gentleman to express a view either way. His swipe at the coalition government’s cack handed NHS changes seems confused and muddled. He opines that the proposals, after the pause, lost their radical edge …

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