Sir - Alan Milburn has been an outstanding health secretary. He has dramatically improved the prospects for patient choice, user empowerment and greater sensitivity from lackadaisical NHS providers. It will be a major disaster if this agenda is kicked into touch by any successor who speaks or thinks at all like Frank Dobson.
Mr Milburn was going in the right direction on many issues: demanding better quality and more audit; preparing to give patients information about individual doctor performance; increasing capacity, a prerequisite of greater patient choice; giving patients direct control of cash for services in social care; and setting up foundation hospital trusts, as a first step to decentralising power to the local patient.
He well understood that you can ultimately empower patients only by giving them control of funds. He has shown courage, flair and panache, and has fought the battles without declaring war.
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