Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
The council role in austerity Britain 19 October 2012 Is local government ready to let go? Chief executives and senior managers gathering in Coventry this week for the annual Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) conference were attempting nothing less than to redefine the role of councils for an austere, digital and networked world. The message that emerged was we must surrender control and embrace collaboration. The dress code was strictly hair shirt. Delegates checked into cheap hotels where the reception desk doubled as a bar and there was one iron for 100 rooms. At this year's conference, I detected a widespread belief that the era of direct service provision was giving way to councils harnessing the "energy and assets" of local people. Historically dubious claims that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented scale and pace of change have given rise to worries that councils risk sidelining long-term planning in the face of perpetual short-term crises. Others simply fear that authorities are poorly equipped to shape or harness this new world. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Foundation restructuring is inevitable 18 October 2012 Healthcare managers will be gathering for the Foundation Trust Network conference next week at a time of growing confusion as to how the health reforms are going to operate. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, appears unwilling to read from the script that Andrew Lansley left him. There are strong indications in his first few weeks that he does not recognise the wall that is being erected between the politicians and the NHS under the new regime, and is repeatedly pushing into territory which Sir David Nicholson and the NHS Commissioning Board regard as theirs. And, just as the new minister starts behaving like an official with operational control, Nicholson has been behaving like a politician. His recent comments to a conference of GPs were extraordinary. He said: "Big, high-profile, politically driven objectives and changes like this almost always end in misery and failure." He is right, of course, but it is all but unprecedented for someone of permanent secretary rank, in effect, to ridicule government policy in this way. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Labour must develop a localist strategy 5 October 2012 Anyone hoping for a coherent local government plan to emerge from Labour's conference will have been disappointed but shadow ministers did flag up major new council powers over health and transport. The conference was dominated by economic issues and Ed Miliband's second coming, but there was little space for a philosophical debate on the nature of an over-centralised state. Local government's low profile in discussions on how to revive growth was a worrying sign that it is in the margins of Labour thinking. The biggest, if sketchy, local government news to emerge from Labour's party conference this week came from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham. He said he was beginning to examine the option of "full integration" of health and social care, sees hospitals having a major responsibility for social services, and wants local councils to replace clinical commissioning groups as the lead commissioners of healthcare. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Labour cannot pursue quality and ideology 4 October 2012 The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, is planning another huge shakeup of the NHS. His statements at this week's Labour conference are couched in terms of getting the structure he would inherit to "work differently". The reality is that he is proposing far-reaching change with significant risks for service quality. At a Guardian healthcare network fringe meeting on Tuesday Burnham said: "The health service would not survive two terms of [David] Cameron … the NHS would not be a national service at the end." Such remarks are a conference ritual; I remember listening to the then shadow health secretary, Robin Cook, warn in 1991 that if Labour lost the election the following year, it may be too late to save the NHS. The Tories got back in, the NHS survived. It will this time as well. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Ministers show bad judgment on growth 21 September 2012 As the economy falters the government is not so much pursuing a comprehensive growth strategy as frantically searching for things to throw out of the basket before the balloon hits the ground. Local government controls are among the first objects to hand. Planning rules are a major target for the deregulators. But in their haste to stimulate economic activity ministers are ignoring the fact that planning is a great deal more than red tape. It is, in part, about conflict resolution – between competing strategic priorities when looking at the big picture, and about personal wellbeing when it comes to your neighbours plans for their house. Now leafy, Conservative-run Richmond upon Thames council in south-west London is in open revolt against the government's relaxation of conservatory planning rules. Conservatories are a big issue in Richmond. Other councils will follow. The much publicised move to make it easier to change section 106 agreements requiring new developments to include social housing are yet another example of communities secretary Eric Pickles diverting attention from the real issue. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Jeremy Hunt needs to shut some services 20 September 2012 As health secretary Jeremy Hunt struggles to get to grips with his new brief, it will become increasingly clear to him that the big issue he faces is shutting services. Lots of them. The evidence supporting the case for widespread reconfiguration of services keeps piling up. Just in the last few days Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, used a fascinating interview  with the Guardian's Denis Campbell to point out that it simply isn't safe, let alone financially viable, to maintain the current 218 children's inpatient units. Poor quality in some of these centres appears to be contributing to the UK's high child mortality rate. In its report Hospitals on the Edge? The time for action (pdf), the Royal College of Physicians argues "we must make difficult decisions about the design of services". Then the Commons' public accounts committee was told this week by Monitor chair David Bennett that, in effect, 11 struggling foundation trusts  should never have been given their semi-autonomous status, while 13 more are heading for serious trouble. At the same hearing NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicholson warned of the dangers of sucking too much money out of the health system with excessively large risk pools; when your risk pools are creating risks you know you are in trouble. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Can doctors trust Hunt with the NHS? 7 September 2012 Jeremy Hunt’s first steps as health secretary for England were inelegant. He tripped this week over a parliamentary early day motion that he had signed five years ago supporting homeopathic hospitals and also a letter to a constituent supporting homeopathy. The Department of Health claimed that his views had “moved on,” but it is a stumbling start that will focus attention on whether he bases his decisions on evidence. As one prominent medical figure put it: “This has attracted considerable comment. He needs to remember doctors are scientists. There is now considerable scepticism [about him], and he will have to prove himself.” Among other forays into health he has contributed to a book describing the NHS as a “60 year mistake” (but was more sanguine about universal healthcare), and he voted for the abortion limit to be cut from 24 to 12 weeks. The MP for affluent, rural South West Surrey has campaigned to protect local services — Haslemere Community Hospital and the emergency department at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust — and supported shifting the weighting of health funding allocations away from deprivation. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Pickles guerrilla warfare continues 7 September 2012 While Eric Pickles retains his grip on the Department for Communities and Local Government, changes in the ministerial foothills could influence the coalition's approach to councils. Greg Clark goes to the Treasury but keeps his cities minister role as well as being involved in economic policy. This presents an opportunity for cities to push themselves towards the centre of government thinking on how to stimulate and restructure the economy. Clark appeared energised by the potential of cities, and his city deals have been one of the most significant developments in local government under the coalition. The arrival of former Policy Exchange director and Westminster city council member Nick Boles to take over the increasingly important planning brief will not be dull. Intelligent, energetic and happy to court controversy on policy ideas, he can be expected to stir up local government with some radical departures from planning orthodoxy. Tim Loughton has been sacked as children's minister. His approach to "speeding up adoption" was simplistic and sometimes unhelpful, but he did at least give focus to this important issue. There is a long way to go in implementing professor Eileen Munro's proposals to make child protection more effective, but Loughton made a start. The new Department for Education team, including David Laws, must not neglect this area. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Lansley had to go - what’s left for Hunt? 6 September 2012 There should be no sentiment about Andrew Lansley's departure as health secretary, no matter how hard he worked, how gutted he is to lose the Tory health brief after nine years or how much he cared about the health service. By every measure of high political office, he was a disaster and he deserved to be sacked. As a strategist, he failed to look for the most pragmatic way to achieve his desired outcome. He simply would not recognise that taking a wrecking ball to NHS structures – at a time of intense financial stress, rising demand and the necessity for widespread changes to clinical practice – was foolish. He compounded this mistake by imposing a structure that resembles a London tube map. Compare that with Michael Gove's pragmatic approach of bending the existing academy programme to his will. As a politician, Lansley managed to turn virtually every interest group against him, gave the opposition almost limitless opportunities to attack and lost the confidence of the public. He was so inept that even after the extraordinary spectacle of "the pause" – when the government just about managed to get the policy back into some sort of order – he again careered into a political ditch as it went through the Lords. Sharp, charming health minister Earl Howe had to tow him out. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network
September to October 2012
Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
The council role in austerity Britain 19 October 2012 Is local government ready to let go? Chief executives and senior managers gathering in Coventry this week for the annual Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) conference were attempting nothing less than to redefine the role of councils for an austere, digital and networked world. The message that emerged was we must surrender control and embrace collaboration. The dress code was strictly hair shirt. Delegates checked into cheap hotels where the reception desk doubled as a bar and there was one iron for 100 rooms. At this year's conference, I detected a widespread belief that the era of direct service provision was giving way to councils harnessing the "energy and assets" of local people. Historically dubious claims that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented scale and pace of change have given rise to worries that councils risk sidelining long-term planning in the face of perpetual short-term crises. Others simply fear that authorities are poorly equipped to shape or harness this new world. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Foundation restructuring is inevitable 18 October 2012 Healthcare managers will be gathering for the Foundation Trust Network conference next week at a time of growing confusion as to how the health reforms are going to operate. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, appears unwilling to read from the script that Andrew Lansley left him. There are strong indications in his first few weeks that he does not recognise the wall that is being erected between the politicians and the NHS under the new regime, and is repeatedly pushing into territory which Sir David Nicholson and the NHS Commissioning Board regard as theirs. And, just as the new minister starts behaving like an official with operational control, Nicholson has been behaving like a politician. His recent comments to a conference of GPs were extraordinary. He said: "Big, high-profile, politically driven objectives and changes like this almost always end in misery and failure." He is right, of course, but it is all but unprecedented for someone of permanent secretary rank, in effect, to ridicule government policy in this way. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Labour must develop a localist strategy 5 October 2012 Anyone hoping for a coherent local government plan to emerge from Labour's conference will have been disappointed but shadow ministers did flag up major new council powers over health and transport. The conference was dominated by economic issues and Ed Miliband's second coming, but there was little space for a philosophical debate on the nature of an over-centralised state. Local government's low profile in discussions on how to revive growth was a worrying sign that it is in the margins of Labour thinking. The biggest, if sketchy, local government news to emerge from Labour's party conference this week came from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham. He said he was beginning to examine the option of "full integration" of health and social care, sees hospitals having a major responsibility for social services, and wants local councils to replace clinical commissioning groups as the lead commissioners of healthcare. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Labour cannot pursue quality and ideology 4 October 2012 The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, is planning another huge shakeup of the NHS. His statements at this week's Labour conference are couched in terms of getting the structure he would inherit to "work differently". The reality is that he is proposing far-reaching change with significant risks for service quality. At a Guardian healthcare network fringe meeting on Tuesday Burnham said: "The health service would not survive two terms of [David] Cameron … the NHS would not be a national service at the end." Such remarks are a conference ritual; I remember listening to the then shadow health secretary, Robin Cook, warn in 1991 that if Labour lost the election the following year, it may be too late to save the NHS. The Tories got back in, the NHS survived. It will this time as well. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Ministers show bad judgment on growth 21 September 2012 As the economy falters the government is not so much pursuing a comprehensive growth strategy as frantically searching for things to throw out of the basket before the balloon hits the ground. Local government controls are among the first objects to hand. Planning rules are a major target for the deregulators. But in their haste to stimulate economic activity ministers are ignoring the fact that planning is a great deal more than red tape. It is, in part, about conflict resolution – between competing strategic priorities when looking at the big picture, and about personal wellbeing when it comes to your neighbours plans for their house. Now leafy, Conservative-run Richmond upon Thames council in south-west London is in open revolt against the government's relaxation of conservatory planning rules. Conservatories are a big issue in Richmond. Other councils will follow. The much publicised move to make it easier to change section 106 agreements requiring new developments to include social housing are yet another example of communities secretary Eric Pickles diverting attention from the real issue. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Jeremy Hunt needs to shut some services 20 September 2012 As health secretary Jeremy Hunt struggles to get to grips with his new brief, it will become increasingly clear to him that the big issue he faces is shutting services. Lots of them. The evidence supporting the case for widespread reconfiguration of services keeps piling up. Just in the last few days Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, used a fascinating interview with the Guardian's Denis Campbell to point out that it simply isn't safe, let alone financially viable, to maintain the current 218 children's inpatient units. Poor quality in some of these centres appears to be contributing to the UK's high child mortality rate. In its report Hospitals on the Edge? The time for action (pdf), the Royal College of Physicians argues "we must make difficult decisions about the design of services". Then the Commons' public accounts committee was told this week by Monitor chair David Bennett that, in effect, 11 struggling foundation trusts should never have been given their semi-autonomous status, while 13 more are heading for serious trouble. At the same hearing NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicholson warned of the dangers of sucking too much money out of the health system with excessively large risk pools; when your risk pools are creating risks you know you are in trouble. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Can doctors trust Hunt with the NHS? 7 September 2012 Jeremy Hunt’s first steps as health secretary for England were inelegant. He tripped this week over a parliamentary early day motion that he had signed five years ago supporting homeopathic hospitals and also a letter to a constituent supporting homeopathy. The Department of Health claimed that his views had “moved on,” but it is a stumbling start that will focus attention on whether he bases his decisions on evidence. As one prominent medical figure put it: “This has attracted considerable comment. He needs to remember doctors are scientists. There is now considerable scepticism [about him], and he will have to prove himself.” Among other forays into health he has contributed to a book describing the NHS as a “60 year mistake” (but was more sanguine about universal healthcare), and he voted for the abortion limit to be cut from 24 to 12 weeks. The MP for affluent, rural South West Surrey has campaigned to protect local services — Haslemere Community Hospital and the emergency department at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust — and supported shifting the weighting of health funding allocations away from deprivation. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Pickles guerrilla warfare continues 7 September 2012 While Eric Pickles retains his grip on the Department for Communities and Local Government, changes in the ministerial foothills could influence the coalition's approach to councils. Greg Clark goes to the Treasury but keeps his cities minister role as well as being involved in economic policy. This presents an opportunity for cities to push themselves towards the centre of government thinking on how to stimulate and restructure the economy. Clark appeared energised by the potential of cities, and his city deals have been one of the most significant developments in local government under the coalition. The arrival of former Policy Exchange director and Westminster city council member Nick Boles to take over the increasingly important planning brief will not be dull. Intelligent, energetic and happy to court controversy on policy ideas, he can be expected to stir up local government with some radical departures from planning orthodoxy. Tim Loughton has been sacked as children's minister. His approach to "speeding up adoption" was simplistic and sometimes unhelpful, but he did at least give focus to this important issue. There is a long way to go in implementing professor Eileen Munro's proposals to make child protection more effective, but Loughton made a start. The new Department for Education team, including David Laws, must not neglect this area. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Lansley had to go - what’s left for Hunt? 6 September 2012 There should be no sentiment about Andrew Lansley's departure as health secretary, no matter how hard he worked, how gutted he is to lose the Tory health brief after nine years or how much he cared about the health service. By every measure of high political office, he was a disaster and he deserved to be sacked. As a strategist, he failed to look for the most pragmatic way to achieve his desired outcome. He simply would not recognise that taking a wrecking ball to NHS structures – at a time of intense financial stress, rising demand and the necessity for widespread changes to clinical practice – was foolish. He compounded this mistake by imposing a structure that resembles a London tube map. Compare that with Michael Gove's pragmatic approach of bending the existing academy programme to his will. As a politician, Lansley managed to turn virtually every interest group against him, gave the opposition almost limitless opportunities to attack and lost the confidence of the public. He was so inept that even after the extraordinary spectacle of "the pause" – when the government just about managed to get the policy back into some sort of order – he again careered into a political ditch as it went through the Lords. Sharp, charming health minister Earl Howe had to tow him out. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network