Politics|

PM warns 12 months to save NHS and schools

In his first major speech in 2011, David Cameron will insist the coalition’s plans for public service reforms are the only way forward for Britain.

Mr Cameron is expected to encourage acceptance of controversial public service changes by insisting the government is forced to undertake the ‘complete modernisation’ of the system to prevent further deterioration, particularly in education, justice and the NHS.

The speech is intended as a new offensive against the strong opposition already voiced by many who oppose the coalition’s vision of a ‘Big Society’ in which public service funding is shared between officialdom and the private sector.

According to the PM, if the revamps are blocked, education will deteriorate still further, poor treatment at the hands of NHS staff will worsen and the further erosion of law and order will continue unchecked.

Later this week ministers will announce legislation to scrap health authorities and primary care trusts, handing responsibility for NHS control to doctors. At present, it is not clear whether the nation’s doctors are willing to take on the role although half the country is expected to be covered by 141 GP consortiums keen on the reforms.

Mr Cameron will state the government is committed to ‘free schools’ operating outside local council control in spite of fierce trade union and Labour party opposition. The policy is due to be expanded, with further education academies for 16 to 19-year olds hopefully funded and run by companies and charities.

A White Paper, due later this year, will detail plans for community groups, companies and charities to own, fund and run certain public services. Although the initiative is likely to be seen as a cost-cutting measure, the paper will state an ‘injection of third-party expertise and capital’ into the criminal justice, education and social care sectors is an essential part of the break-up of state monopoly of the public sector.

Scepticism about the true aims of Mr Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ shake-up is rife in some quarters, who believe it is over-optimistic to expect communities, individuals and companies to bear the burden of providing welfare services at a time of economic privation. .

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