The future of the NHS

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7068.1277 (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1277
  1. Chris Ham
  1. Director Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2RT

    Reorganisation fatigue has set in; now for service development

    By publishing its white paper on the future of the NHS at this point in the election cycle,1 the British government has got its retaliation in first. The white paper reaffirms the government's commitment to maintain and develop the NHS and outlines a number of strategic objectives for the future. These objectives are to create a well informed public, a seamless service, decision making based on the latest clinical evidence, a highly trained and skilled workforce, and a service that responds to patients' needs. The white paper also restates three of the founding principles of the NHS—a commitment to universal population coverage, high quality care, and availability on the basis of clinical need—and for good measure adds a fourth—responsiveness to the needs and wishes of patients and carers.

    Leaving on one side cynicism about the timing of the white paper and concerns that the time and skills of civil servants have been harnessed in the pursuit of party political objectives, there is much in the government's proposals that makes sense. The lack of a strategy …

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