Headlines: July 17th, 2001

Tony Blair has set out a package of measures which will form the basis of the public sector reform programme. Reform plans will shortly be in place for each major public service. In addition, the Civil Service and government itself is carrying out its own extensive programme of change. There will be new structures in Government, new ways of delivering services, as well as changes in career and incentives systems for civil servants.In the NHS 75% of budgets will be devolved to to local primary care trusts. Successful NHS hospitals will be allowed to take over failing ones. Private sector management will run some of the new stand-alone surgery centers and PFI will be extended beyond the hospital sector into primary care, social services and the provision of imaging and laboratory equipment. Private sector management expertise will also be used in the running of NHS buildings and IT systems. A university for the NHS will be set up to give staff the chance to improve their new skills and there will be changes to the contracts of doctors, nurses and consultants to open up better career development, allow more flexible working and end unnecessary demarcation in working practices.

Reform of the criminal justice system will include plans to reduce crime, reform the police service, and overhaul the criminal system. The criminal courts system will be overhauled following publication of the Auld report and evening and weekend courts will be introduced in high crime areas. There will be a new sentencing framework with tougher sentences for repeat offenders and more supervision of prisoners after release.A new criminal assets recovery agency will be set up to seize the assets of drug dealers and those involved in organised crime. Consultations are already in progress on reform of the police service.