Govt to personalise public services

The public should be placed at the heart of public services as a part of “truly personalised” reforms of schools and hospitals, the prime minister said today.

Service users are to be given more choice over public services, enabled by league tables and user feedback.

Plans include ‘walk in centre’ for doctors in areas underserved by GPs. Mr Blair also called for more diversity of supply, explaining that patients waiting for treatment should be able to apply to other suppliers, if they are available.

The government also wants to push more tailored lessons for gifted and talented pupils, more specialised help for children with special needs and increase the number of schools open from 8am to 6pm.

Tony Blair launched the government’s policy review of public services in Hackney, east London today, joined by health secretary Patricia Hewitt, education secretary Alan Johnson and the chancellor Gordon Brown.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Blair said: “What we want is to keep these basic public service values, which are about access to quality public services irrespective of your wealth.

“But make sure those are truly personalised services where the people using the services have greater power, where there’s a much greater diversity of provider and were the old ways of working are broken down and people are empowered on the front line to work in a different and more constructive way.”

Today’s document is not a detailed manifesto for government reform, Mr Blair added.

The Cabinet has launched six policy reviews that will examine every aspect of government. Today’s publication on public services will be followed by reviews on crime and justice, the role of the state, environment and energy, economic dynamism and Britain and the world.

Mr Blair wrote in the introduction to the review, that the aim is to make the service user, not central government, the driver of how services are developed, with reforms based on personalisation and equity.

The review notes real incomes have risen considerably, meaning expectations of standards have risen and people expect greater choice and control over their lives. At the same time higher educational standards mean people are better equipped to exercise choice.

Ms Hewitt said this morning the document would “put the public service at the service of the patient”, pointing to NHS initiatives such as Choose and Book.

Gordon Brown agreed that tailoring public services towards people’s needs is necessary for the next stage of reform and improvement. He added there will be a “major announcement” on city academies at the Budget this Wednesday.