Does Burnham’s speech create a real NHS dividing line?

Having enjoyed his brief summer romance with a patriotic God-save-our-NHS twitter campaign, Andy Burnham got down to business today setting out a more sophisticated vision for health reform that could set the agenda for the election campaign. No longer is he claiming that Conservative “localism” was the threat against which the NHS must be defended. Instead, the speech has been sold (or re-sold) as promoting GP choice. But there was a more subtle message about the pragmatic use of market reform where it can improve quality and efficiency.

This is likely to be painted as a ‘retreat from reform’ by the City but actually shows a return to the objective of reform – quality, efficiency and personalisation, using markets as a tool not an end in itself – and away from a game of sending signals to industry and Unions.

This lays down a challenge to Andrew Lansley – who has proposed an open market model enforced by a competition regulator with “clout” – to set out his approach to marketisation in the downturn; and could upset the cosy relationship with the BMA that is still fighting a war with Labour.

Joe Farrington-Douglas is writing in a personal capacity.

7 Responses to “Does Burnham’s speech create a real NHS dividing line?”

  1. Ellie Gellard

    RT @leftfootfwd: Does Andy Burnham’s speech signal a real health dividing line with the Tories on use of the market?

  2. Thomas Byrne

    And yet no-one apart from Private Eye from what I have seen have criticised him for attacking localism, despite it being the next step in Labours NHS policy. (Foundation Trusts and the like.)

  3. matthew bond

    I think that we should use markets where possible. Great thing about public ownership of NHS is we can have the benefits of markets while mitigating costs of professional rent seeking.

  4. Matthew Taylor

    There was no dividing line in Burnham’s speech. He gave in and accepted that something the Tories have been backing for a while was in fact the right approach.

    The cynic in me wonders if it had more to do with trying to use individual doctors’ desire to grow their practices as a way to break through some of the BMA’s more protectionist approaches, than a conversion to this as the best way to do business.

  5. Thomas Byrne

    Hey Matthew, at least we don’t have private insurance like that terrible healthcare system in France!

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