[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 15:58 GMT
Push for 'personalised' services
Tony Blair
Mr Blair said services should be 'ever more focused' on users' needs
Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for "truly personalised" services with people given the information and power needed to choose a school or hospital.

His policy review of public services says people want services more tailored to their needs, with more choice.

To help "empower" people, schools and hospital league tables may include satisfaction ratings like on eBay.

The Tories agreed there was a need for more choice, but criticised the government's "mania for state control".

The review is the first in a series setting out policy for the next decade.

'Lessons learnt'

Among its specific plans are for school websites which give updated details of children's progress, attendance and homework record.

Other proposals include introducing more NHS "walk-in" centres, especially in places where there are not enough doctors, and opening more surgeries in evenings and at weekends.

Technology is really expanding what is possible
Patricia Hewitt, Health Secretary

The review also says better technology will allow patients to book appointments at more convenient times and choose to have operations closer to where their relatives live.

It calls for more "contestability" - or competition - where education and health services are not effective.

For instance, it could be "made easier" to set up smaller schools where larger existing ones are failing, while areas with "multiple failing schools" could have contracts put out to tender.

Competition could also be extended to council services, such as street-cleaning and foster care, and some policing, the review says.


Meanwhile, people could be told the cost of, say, a visit to the GP, in an effort to make them "more prudent" in their use.

And, university students, who may believe their fees pay for their education, could be informed of the total cost of their course at the beginning of each year.

At the document's launch in Hackney, east London, 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 there's a much greater diversity of provider and the old ways of working are broken down."

Rather than more warm words, what people want is for the government to trust the professionals
Andrew Lansley
Shadow health secretary

Chancellor Gordon Brown, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Education Secretary Alan Johnson also attended the launch.

Mr Brown, the favourite to replace Mr Blair as prime minister later this year, said personalised services were the next stage of improving public services.

In health, he singled out the example of a pharmacy being able to offer blood tests.

And in education, personalised tuition should be offered to make sure children did not fall behind their classmates, he added.

Control 'mania'

Mr Brown also promised to make "major announcements" on the government's City Academies programme in his Budget this Wednesday.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the Conservatives agreed there was a need for increasing choice and "putting patients first".

But he accused the government of a "mania for state control" which had resulted in NHS cuts, while the Tories wanted to get rid of "interfering" targets and allocate money on a clinical basis - not on political priorities.

"Rather than more warm words, what people want is for the government to trust the professionals and put people back at the heart of the NHS," he said.

For the Lib Dems, health spokesman Norman Lamb said it was no good offering people different hospitals, if it meant they would have to be treated far from home.

And he said "personalised learning" was not about choosing between schools, but making sure children got the support they needed, no matter which school they were at.

"Tony Blair's idea of choice has little to do with what people actually want," he said.

Tony Blair outlines his public services vision

Tories can save NHS, says Cameron
18 Mar 07 |  UK Politics
Blair backs individual learning
19 Mar 07 |  Education
Blair urges 'faster' NHS reform
06 Feb 07 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific