News story

Government launches NHS “listening exercise”

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government has today launched a 2-month “listening exercise” to hear the public’s views on NHS modernisation.

Have your say (Department of Health website).

The listening exercise was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on a visit to Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey.

Mr Cameron said he passionately believed in the NHS but said “maintaining the status quo was not an option” if it was to cope with the demands of a rapidly ageing population.

Speaking alongside the Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said it was “extraordinarily important” the Government got the reforms right.

The Deputy PM said the exercise, which will see events running across the country, was a chance to “pause, listen, reflect and improve on our proposals” and was a genuine chance to make a difference.

He also said the proposed reforms contained “common sense” ideas designed to reduce bureaucracy, put more power in the hands of communities and give more responsibility to family doctors who know patients best

Nick Clegg said:

Those ideas stay true to the vision of the NHS set out by its architect, the great Liberal William Beveridge, and they are ideas that will be preserved in our reforms.

Does this mean we have got every detail right? Does it mean we’ve convinced everyone? Of course it doesn’t, and that’s why we are taking the time now to pause, listen, reflect and improve on our proposals.

In process terms it’s unusual - but then again, so is a Government that actually listens. I care more about getting this right than just getting it done.

The engagement exercise will focus on four key areas over the coming weeks:

  • the role of choice and competition for improving quality
  • how to ensure public accountability and patient involvement in the new system
  • how new arrangements for education and training can support the modernisation process
  • how advice from across a range of healthcare professions can improve patient care

The Department of Health also today published a leaflet Working together for a stronger NHS setting out why we need change in the NHS.

Alongside the public listening exercise, a new group of patient representatives, doctors and nurses will be brought together to listen and report back to Government.

Chaired by Birmingham GP and former Royal College of General Practioners Chairman Steve Field, the new ‘NHS Future Forum’ will provide a valuable channel for the thoughts and opinions of patients and staff on the ground.

Read more: Modernisation of health and care (Department of Health website).