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Editor's blog Tuesday 3 May 2011: Life on Marr's - PM Cameron on the NHS reform pause

So. That was a good holiday-type break for finance directors in foundation trusts, whose frantic applications for new jobs prompted by Monitor's suggesting repeated use of a seven-per-cent solution - though sadly not one that would have appealed to The World's Greatest Detective.

Indeed, we may well need the World's Greatest Detectives to find 7% year-on-year for four successive financial years. But that is another post altogether.


Click here for details of 'Cameron the Winner; Lansley the Magnificent', via subscription-based Health Policy Intelligence.


For now, we take a trip to observe Life On Mars - that is, on Marr's Politics Show on BBC1 from Sunday (48 minutes 30 in), when PM David 'That Nice Mr' Cameron was asked by the superinjunction-slapping journalist about the reasons for the NHS reform 'pause'.

The PM's answer, and subsequent exchanges, are transcribed below.

David Cameron: "There was an opportunity, because the legislation has almost finished the Commons and was not yet started in the House Of Lords.

"And I'm a passionate believer in our NHS - the fact it's free at the point of use, that it's related to your need, not your ability to pay. This is an incredibly precious thing about being British.

"Now, we do need to upgrade and improve our health service, but I was concerned - and Andrew Lansley and Nick Clegg as well - were concerned  that we weren't taking enough of the health professionals, and enough of the country, frankly, with us on this point ..."

Andrew Marr (interrupting): "And there was surprise - because this wasn't in your manifesto as such and it wasn't in the Coalition Agreement, and so it came as a shock to people".

DC: "Well, I don't quite agree with that, because I think that if you look at both manifestos, you can see that these evolutionary changes about giving GPs more power over how to get the best healthcare for you; about making hospitals more independent so they're in charge of their own destiny; about those sort of things, and also about concentrating on public health as well as just the National Health Service: these were all laid out in our manifestos ..."

AM: "Yeah ... "

DC: "Now it may be odd for a Government to say 'Hold on a second, we're not taking enough people with us. We need to listen more carefully, to see what improvements we can make'. It may be odd and different for a Government to do that, rather than just charge ahead regardless - but nonetheless I think it's the right thing to do.

"And I've been running some of these events myself; just going to hospitals quite quietly, no fanfare,  sitting in a room with doctors and nursers and midwives and others - and managers - and asking them what they think. And some very clear messages are coming back. They like the basics of the reform, but they've got some clear pointers about hospital doctors having greater involvement in these things.

"And I hope we'll will be able to satisfy these demands and bring together - I want to reform the health service in a way where health professional actually see this as a sensible evolution from what they've had before".