Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 22

Health secretary John Reid recently published an essay in which he argued that the future of the health market lies in a 'synthesis' of state and market and that the debate over which is better should stop. We asked the HSJ100 panel, how likely do you think that is to happen?

Hilda Harvey, chair, Bury primary care trust

John Reid's premise is correct and the NHS would be better putting energy and thought into how to work with the private sector to deliver an improved service to patients, rather than in endless debate.

Most patients' main concern is that they receive the best care available, irrespective of who delivers it.

Kate Harmond, independent healthcare consultant

Evidence of the impact of government reforms/ investment is convincing when real patients, nurses, doctors and frontline NHS staff share real examples of real improvements with their friends, neighbours, families and readers. . . all of whom are voters.

Sadly, politicians and journalists have less public credibility!

Steve Collins, director of planning and deputy chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust

We have had a synthesis of state and market for decades - it can work very well. The real question is what synthesis, and will it distort patient care?

The devil is in the detail. Collecting the same types of patient together makes for better care, as it increases specialism and smooths flow. If the synthesis achieves that, patients will benefit - so It is alright by me.

Dissent in the ranks is a good thing for democracy and it sometimes even makes for good policies.

But personally I think It is essential, as I find it an indispensible spectator sport.