» Tuesday, June 22, 2004

PM Speech/Public Services

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the Prime Minister’s speech tomorrow on public services. The Prime Minister would stake out what he called ‘the battleground for the future of our public services’ in a keynote speech the day before the NHS Improvement Plan was published in Parliament by John Reid. He would argue that the extra investment and reform the Government had committed in recent years had brought real improvements in terms of capacity and performance across the public services. Recent reports from the NHS Chief Executive and the NHS Modernisation Board showed the progress that had been made in the health service for example. Waiting times had fallen dramatically and deaths from the big killers – heart disease and cancer – were down. The Prime Minister believed the progress provided the platform to drive forward with the next and most significant stage of reform and develop what he called the ‘new generation of personalised services’.

He would say: “With growing capacity in our public services we can now accelerate reform. We have the opportunity to develop a new generation of personalised services where equity and excellence go hand in hand – services shaped by the needs of those who use them, services with more choice extended to everyone and not just those that can afford to pay, services personal to each and fair to all. This is the battleground for the future of our public services.”

He would argue that we needed to reshape the 1945 welfare state so as to keep the values of equality of opportunity and access, combining them with excellence and high standards for all as we personalised services. We needed to ensure that the middle class continued to see public services as for them and that the coalition of support for universal public services remained.

He would argue that without increasing capacity in the public services any talk of extending choice was meaningless. Equally, without an extension of choice to everyone we would not have public services which genuinely put the patient, the parent, the pupil and the law-abiding citizen first.

Asked what was meant by ‘personalised services’, the PMOS said that further details would be set out in the Prime Minister’s speech and in each of the improvement plans due to be published in the weeks and months to come. It meant that the public services people used were not one-size-fits-all but a genuine reflection of the needs of individuals. Put to him that readers of the Daily Telegraph “wouldn’t have a clue what he was talking about”, the PMOS said that the NHS improvement plan, due to be published on Thursday, would set out the details. The Prime Minister’s speech tomorrow would contain a broad statement of principles from which each detailed public service improvement plans would flow. Asked to give an example of personalised services, the PMOS said that people already had the right to choose whether to wait for an appointment at one hospital or go for an appointment at another to speed up the process.

Asked what “expansion” would entail, the PMOS pointed out that it was already happening in the NHS and the education system where capacity was being increased. The CSR would take the programme further forward.

Questioned about the fall in mortality rates from the “big killers”, the PMOS pointed out that in A&E departments across the country, nine out of ten patients were seen treated within four hours; 93% of patients were now offered an appointment with their GP within 48 hours of improvement. In addition, cancer death rates had fallen by 10%; coronary heart disease had fallen by over 20% in less than six years. This was pretty concrete proof of improvements being made within the NHS.

Asked if the Prime Minister’s ideas were really as radical as foundation hospitals and tuition fees for example in the light of the fact that some Government backbenchers might get a bit jittery when hearing talk of ‘accelerating reform’ and ‘reshaping the welfare state’, the PMOS said that the detail of what was being proposed would be set out in each departmental improvement plan. The Prime Minister’s basic message was that the principles of equality of opportunity and access were values which would continue, but only if they were combined with excellence and high standards for all. The truth of the matter was that public services, like the rest of society, did not stand still. As expectations rose, it was up to the Government to meet them in its provision of the country’s public services.

Asked if the Prime Minister was ‘hinting’ at greater collaboration with the private sector to increase capacity in our public services, the PMOS pointed out that we had been using the private sector for some time in the health service to increase capacity – to the benefit of many NHS patients. The key point was whether the service remained free at the point of delivery. We were determined that that founding principle would continue. Put to him that the use of the private sector would undermine the Government’s message to the middle classes that public services were for them, the PMOS said that he would disagree. The middle classes wanted to know that they would receive a high quality service free at the point of delivery. The use of the private sector was a means to that end.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


June 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« May   Jul »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh