England & Wales

“Working Together” public services reform paper


Downing Street are hyping up proposals on public service reform launched this morning by the Prime Minister. The morning papers have the fast track teacher training story.  There is also a health dimension, with a proposal that in the style of websites like ‘Trip Adviser’ patients should be able to rate and comment on the service they receive.   I detect the hand of Liam Byrne and Tom Watson, who believe that the government has been slow to harness the power of information.

The Prime Minister said “We have clearly got the balance wrong when online businesses have higher standards of transparency than… public services.  People take it for granted that they will access other people’s reviews and ratings before buying something on eBay or Amazon, and yet we do not yet have systematic access to other people’s experiences when choosing a GP practice or nursery”.

There are proposals around access to information about the performance of local councils, which will look to make performance and inspection information more available in a user friendly format.   The main proposals in the document are:

  • Create a new ‘Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery’, looking at freeing up nurses and midwives to lead improvements on the front line;
  • Work with partners to develop a new fast-track route for talented career switchers and graduates moving into teaching – taking six rather than the current 12 months to complete;
  • Launch a Masters degree ‘Teaching and Learning’, with an ambition of 4,000-5,000 participating in 2009/10;
  • Introduce a new Accelerate to Headship scheme in September 2010, to offer up to 200 outstanding individuals a fast-track pathway to senior leadership within four years;
  • Reduce red-tape in policing equivalent to 2,500-3,500 officers over time, including around 690,000 hours of form filling alone; and
  • Cut police targets to one – public confidence in policing.
  • Provide people with new opportunities through the NHS Choices website to give online comment and share information about all health services in their area, including direct feedback to all GP surgeries this summer. This gives people more power to influence the way health services are delivered;
  • Continue to see that payment to hospitals for services is linked to patient-reported experiences and outcomes – and the quantity of this payment linked to outcomes will now increase year-on-year;
  • Provide a dedicated website in 2010 for parents to compare and share information about childcare settings. Combining this with OFSTED reports and price comparisons;
  • Build new online performance maps of local services allowing people to compare their area with others from May 2009, this will help people put more pressure on their local councils to improve or change services; and
  • Provide an online national crime map by the end of the year, building on the local area crime maps already available through Directgov.
  • Giving high-performing hospitals more autonomy through the expansion of NHS Foundation Trusts (FTs), with around 25 new FTs in 2009, subject to Monitor approval, this would mean more than half of all Trusts will be FTs.
  • Giving Jobcentre Plus advisers greater discretion to personalise support, benefiting up to 80,000 jobseekers.
  • In Local Government, freeing up local leaders to join up and tailor services and economic strategies across local areas. Plus a further six Multi Area Agreements over the next 12 months and with at least two cities increasingly take control over their own economic destiny.
  • Across government delivering £35bn of value for money savings, equivalent to £1,400 per household that will be allocated to front line services and further savings to come in 2009 Budget.