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Reforms spell freedom from Whitehall, says Clegg

11 February 2011

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Freedom from the ‘dead hand of Whitehall’ is what lies behind the Government’s plans for the public sector according to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.


Speaking at the Guardian Public Services Summit on Thursday Mr Clegg defended the health reforms.


He said the logic of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s reforms was to reverse the imbalance of central control and ‘put power into the hands of those within the NHS who understand patients, GPs, and in the hands of those who are accountable to GPs, local authorities’.


His speech focused on the shortcomings of the public sector – standards, equality and affordability.


‘Standards are low, the UK has the worst rate of mortality healthcare amongst all rich nations. If we can change the way public services operate so they are under constant challenge to innovate and improve not only can we narrow the gap between rich and poor we raise standards for all,’ he said.


He also challenged those present to become more responsive and dispense with the ‘the computer says no approach’ which had been driven by top down targets.


In light of criticisms that the NHS reforms will lead to privatisation Mr Clegg assured the 200 delegates present that the cuts were not being made for ideological reasons and he ‘takes a hard line against the blanket privatisation…because replacing a public monopoly with a private monopoly achieves nothing but reduced accountability’.

By Victoria Vaughan