Health thinktank puts forward blueprint for NHS independence - Guardian
"A blueprint for giving the NHS independence from government control was published yesterday in an attempt to influence Gordon Brown's health policies when he takes over as prime minister next month.
The Nuffield Trust, a health thinktank, said operational control of hospitals and primary care should be passed to an independent corporation, similar to the BBC, operating under a charter that guaranteed a free service to patients.
"The NHS is being damaged by being treated as a political football," said the report's author, Brian Edwards. Politicians' constant changes in order to hit centrally-imposed targets within short political cycles is damaging staff morale and doctor-patient relationships and preventing sensible long-term planning, the report concludes. People do not trust moves to close hospital departments to create safer specialist centres, and in some parts of Britain the NHS is in danger of being "encased in political ice", it finds.
Before the Labour party conference in September, Mr Brown's advisers said he was interested in giving independence to the NHS in the same way that he ceded control over interest rates to the Bank of England in 1997.
The report by Professor Edwards, emeritus professor of healthcare development at Sheffield university, describes seven options for giving the NHS in England greater freedom from political interference. He said: "The BBC model is the best of them. It would be a way of giving a high level of independence to operational units." "
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