Commenting on the government's policy review paper on public service reform publised today (Monday 19 March), Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber said:
"The government has every right to be proud of the extra investment that has allowed public servants to deliver better services, and ministers deserve praise for their part in producing a new consensus that values public service over tax cuts. And while sometimes hidden in jargon, there are welcome parts of this paper.
"Yet the government is wrong to see privatisation, private sector involvement and market forces as the prime ways of securing necessary future improvement. In particular, it leads to a confused view of choice.
"Of course people want to be treated as individuals and have a say in the services they receive. But that does not mean they want to become customers in a competitive market in the same way that they would choose a supermarket. In health, for example, patients would much rather have choice about appointment times and the kind of treatment they receive, than be customers in a market that sets hospitals against each other competing for patients, rather than co-operating together.
"Real partnerships with staff and service users can produce better and fairer planned change, than quasi-markets."