New Labour and the NHS

  • Christopher Ham
Part of the Public Policy and Politics book series (PPP)


The election of a Labour government under Tony Blair in 1997 brought to an end 18 years of Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher and John Major and appeared to offer the prospect of a return to quieter times for the NHS. In practice, this was not to be as the Blair government developed its own policies for the modernisation of the NHS and in the process published proposals which were just as radical as those contained in Working for Patients. These proposals centred on what ministers described as a ‘third way’ of reform, different from both the internal market of the Thatcher government and the application of centralised planning by previous Labour governments. The aim of this chapter is to analyse this third way and to explore variations in its application to different parts of the United Kingdom at a time when the devolution of power opened up increasing differences of approach between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


Health Authority White Paper Primary Care Trust Labour Party Clinical Governance 
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Guide to Further Reading

  1. The Blair government’s proposals are set out in a White Paper, The New NHS (Secretary of State for Health, 1997), a Green Paper on public health, Our Healthier Nation (Secretary of State for Health, 1998a), and a consultation document on quality in the new NHS, A First Class Service (Secretary of State for Health, 1998b). Early commentaries on the government’s plans are provided in Klein (1998) and Ham (1999). The results of the comprehensive spending review set out plans for the future of NHS spending (Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1998), and the experience of primary care groups is foreshadowed in Regen, Smith and Shapiro (1999). The implications of devolution are reviewed in Hazell and Jervis (1998).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christopher Ham 1999

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  • Christopher Ham

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