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More centralised control on the way, Health Secretary suggests

Why is Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt changing his mind on the internal market?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given an interview suggesting the internal market and independent foundation trusts have hampered progress on patient safety.

Mr Hunt is reported to have told Health Service Journal editors that these elements of the health service make it difficult to quickly roll out best practice.

His comments appear to suggest a significant change of direction in Department of Health (DH) policy, as previous health secretaries have pursued greater levels of competition and independence.

The comments appear to align with the planned move to accountable care systems, and away from established patterns of commissioning.

He said the issue went back to a time when the priority was to create hospital trusts that would be ‘independent islands of excellence’. It is now realised this model has to change, Mr Hunt said.

He also revealed that the DH is exploring ways of standardising best practice across the NHS quickly so that patients can be assured that action is being taken.

Further information

HSJExclusive: Internal market and FT ‘islands’ hamper safe care, says Hunt