Intended for healthcare professionals


New Labour and the NHS

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 24 April 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1092

Politicians should pay more attention to building capacity in the NHS

  1. Chris Ham, Director
  1. Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2RT

    A prime ministerial speech on the NHS is rare. So when Tony Blair addressed an audience in Birmingham on 13 April it provided an opportunity to take stock of New Labour's approach to health policy and assess what the government has achieved in its first two years.

    Appropriately for a prime ministerial address, the speech concentrated on the big picture, setting out the government's vision for health and health services. This vision centres on five strands: quick and convenient treatment, high quality care throughout the NHS, a positive experience for patients, better health as well as health care, and a partnership between the NHS and each individual in achieving better health. The last of these strands runs through much of New Labour's thinking about health and welfare and distances the government from Old Labour by emphasising personal responsibility alongside the state's responsibility.

    In an audience containing many of the leaders of the newly established primary care groups, the prime minister highlighted the opportunities available to these groups to build on the achievements …

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