A Blairite before Blair?

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 19 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1170
  1. Nick Timmins, public policy editor
  1. Financial Times

    The new health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is prepared to take forward the New Labour agenda but should not be seen as anybody's poodle. Nick Timmins reports

    In Patricia Hewitt, the new secretary of state for health, the NHS gets a good brain capable of fierce analysis, allied to a public manner that her critics describe as headmistressy or nannyish. It also gets a battle hardened survivor.

    Such skills look likely to be needed if, as Hewitt has indicated, she intends to see through the government's market based reforms of the NHS to their logical conclusion.

    Her first move was bridge building: the weekend of her appointment saw phone calls to, among others, James Johnson (the chairman of the BMA's council), Dame Gill Morgan (chief executive of the NHS Confederation), and Dave Prentis (the general secretary of the trade union Unison), asking them what they saw as the key issues and expressing a desire to work with them.

    The first indications, however, are that Hewitt will work to an unchanged government agenda, with Hewitt picking up Tony Blair's language of a patient centred NHS, one where services are organised around the patient and for their convenience, rather than around the convenience of the organisation itself.

    She wanted, she said, to carry on the “direction and pace of reform” as set by her …

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