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Exclusive: government rebrands NHS reforms

The government is to embark on a major rebrand of its NHS reforms, HSJ can reveal.

The move is an attempt to reverse the reform’s unpopularity with bodies such as the British Medical Association and with coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

An initial indication of the rebranding came last week, when health secretary Andrew Lansley rechristened the any willing provider policy “any qualified provider”.

However, HSJ now understands that Andrew Cooper, the prime minister’s new director of strategy, is to spearhead a wholesale rebrand alongside the recently appointed Number 10 policy adviser Paul Bate.

To head off Liberal Democrat criticism that GP consortia commissioning does not allow for sufficient public and local authority input, the bodies will have to add patients and councillors to their boards. As a result they are to be renamed Practice Commissioning Tribunals.

To circumvent allegations that the 50-odd PCT clusters currently being formed are simply a new intermediate tier of the Department of Health, they are to be instructed to reduce intervention in individual health economies and will be given the title of Sector Health Advisers.

Key to the rebranding is a drive to calm fears of the reforms reducing the comprehensive nature of the NHS. As a result, more focus is going to placed on the NHS Commissioning Board and the role of its chief executive-elect Sir David Nicholson, whose reputation as an ‘old-style’ NHS manager is thought to be reassuring to those worried about increasing private sector involvement. The Board will be renamed the Universal Service System Regulator.

Economic regulator Monitor will also have a name change as a result of this policy – but newly appointed chair David Bennett has insisted that the organisation is called the Universal Service Agency.

In line with the switch to “any qualified provider”, the Care Quality Commission will be retitled the Centre for Qualification Certification. Since the Commission already exists, its rebranding will cost in the region of £5m.

Following Liberal Democrat concerns about the independence of patient watchdog Healthwatch, the proposed body will no longer be hosted by the Commission. After a deal with a northern university, the renamed Patient Assurance and Insight Network will be housed in the National Evaluation Centre, Keele.

Finally, any new policy proposed by health secretary Andrew Lansley will have to be understood and cleared by a new policy committee chaired by health minister Simon Burns. Its members will consist of British Medical Association chair Hamish Meldrum, Royal College of GPs chair Clare Gerada and the winner of this year’s BBC Masterchef competition.

Readers' comments (34)


    I hear the French Health Minister, Avril Lefou, has been consulted on these proposals due to her PR expertise in healthcare reform

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  • Same wine in new bottles.Another spin engineered by Andrew Cooper.I hope Hamish and Clare don't take the bate?Andrew Lansley seems to be in a pathological state of denial.The reforms are professionally,poltically,economically are fundamentally flawed and can't be resurrected.

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  • Patrick Keady

    Practice Commissioning Tribunals and Sector Health Advisers ! Thank you HSJ for the refreshing read and happy 1st April :-)

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  • Star Geezer

    I think the if they could just confirm they are in fact New Labourites carrying out the agreed previous policy then its a done deal...

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  • best laugh of the week...thank you!

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  • If only it wasn't April 1st. Thank you HSJ

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  • Almost ridiculous enough to be true.

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  • The sad thing is that for an April Joke to be funny it has to be close to the truth! HA HA

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  • Guys...terrific...and, save the last paragraph, entirely plausible (sadly!)

    Fighting over nomenclature rather than substance rings so true.

    On a serious note: gossip is that SoS was carpeted yesterday in No 10 and there were utterances about the drop dead date for PCTs/Clusters now being extended (indefinitely?) based on capability of GPCCs. Any news on this?

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  • Ha Ha. Well done. Was reading with renewed hope until "Practice Commissioning Tribunals" showed that it was too good to be true.

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