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Health experts give qualified approval to previous government’s health reforms

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 27 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6179
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Market reforms of the NHS in England under New Labour had small but positive effects without causing the damage that critics feared, a new book published by the health policy think tank the King’s Fund concludes.

Although it remains difficult to separate out the effects of market policies such as patient choice, Payment by Results, foundation trusts, and diversity of providers from the “targets and terror” that coexisted with them, the authors of the study, Understanding New Labour’s Market Reforms of the English NHS, present a largely positive judgment.

Julian Le Grand, who as an adviser to Tony Blair at Number 10 Downing Street inspired many of the changes, says in a foreword that he could not know the reforms would work but that he believed they would.

“There were plenty of people prepared to predict disaster,” he writes. Old ways of working “acquired the glow of a lost golden age” when there was no waste and no …

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