Intended for healthcare professionals


Hastening slowly: Mr Dobson plays a waiting game

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 18 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:966

A task that cannot wait is to lower expectations in the short run

  1. Rudolf Klein, Professorial fellowa
  1. a King's Fund Policy Institute, London W1M 0AN

    Britain's new government is at present engaged in a curious policy striptease, with more tease than strip. Hardly a day passes without the unveiling of some new initiative or the announcement of yet another working party to review specific aspects of the NHS. But we are still left waiting for the promised series of green and white papers translating the government's general aspirations into specific proposals for the NHS and public health. In this respect, the speech by Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, at the recent Labour party conference proved unrevealing.1 There was a dribble of specifics. But the government's overall strategy remains veiled. Nor is this surprising.

    Ministers face a dilemma. The frustrating reality of a financially constrained NHS struggling to cope with competing expectations has somehow to be reconciled with the rhetoric of transformation that swept ministers into office. In these circumstances the best that can be hoped for is incremental change, which, …

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