» Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Public Service Speech

Asked if it was fair to say that there was nothing particularly new in the Prime Minister’s speech on reinventing government, the PMOS said what the speech did was pull together the themes that the Prime Minister had been developing in terms of his attitude to public service reform as a whole, and take them further. The Conference today had a variety of speakers such as John Hutton and David Miliband as well as speakers from Canada and elsewhere talking about public service reform.

The four key principles that the Prime Minister would set out were about setting minimum standards, creating mechanisms of choice, allowing providers to contest provision, and breaking down the traditional demarcation. These key things could be applied to health, education, crime and so forth and were all vital to reform. The top line message from the Prime Minister was that you had to put the investment in first of all, but to convince the public that that investment had been worthwhile, you had to change the service to meet the needs and expectations of the 21st century. As the Prime Minister says in his speech, the public sector was not a monument that shouldn’t be changed. It had to be a living organism.

Put to him that the pronouncements in the Prime Minister’s speech about harnessing the power of nano-technology and so forth didn’t square with the costly IT problems of the NHS and other public services, the PMOS said that although it might have passed some people by, the Prime Minister had spoken about nano-technology on a number of occasions as well as the rapid developments in IT. The reality was, and this would affect public service just as much as it affected newspapers, broadcasting and every other aspect of life, that technology was developing faster than ever before.

One of the themes of the Prime Minister’s speech was that change was something which couldn’t be avoided and which affected people’s expectations of public services. Public services had to keep up with the pace of change. Of course there were individual problems, but if you looked at the Health Service, and the Prime Minister gave the example of Nurse practitioners, change was happening. It was happening in the way that doctors operated, it was happening in the way that nurses operated, changes were happening throughout the public services. We had to keep up with that pace of change, you couldn’t just say that because there were particular problems in particular areas that meant you stopped all change, life didn’t work that way.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Search for related news

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