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Blair pushes for citizen-centric services

Public sector not hitting the mark yet

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Prime Minister Tony Blair is urging central and local government to take public sector reform 'a stage further'.

Launching the Building on progress: public services policy paper, Blair says people want services tailored to their needs, with more choice and a "greater diversity of providers".

Although progress has been made, personalising services around the user so they are tailored to citizens' differing needs and preferences is not yet complete, the review says.

The review urges the public sector to make greater use of the internet and other technologies to enable citizens to shape services in ways and at times convenient to them, and ensuring the disadvantaged are given the support they need to make effective choices.

It is the first in a series setting out policy for the next 10 years. The reviews are intended to see what has worked "after 10 years in power... what should be intensified; and on what new directions should be pursued."

Future plans may include introducing ratings similar to that used by eBay on schools and hospital league tables.

The NHS Expert Patient Programme, which encourages patients to manage their own conditions, should be extended beyond its existing 2004/07 rollout plan.

New technologies should be used in the NHS to help provide healthcare interventions tailored to the specific needs of individuals (for example based on a patient's genetic profile).

The government should support the development of new and innovative services that provide tailored advice to specific groups. "These are outside government's direct influence, but government has a role to play in supporting them – by ensuring that they are not undermined by government programmes or websites with similar objectives," the review says.

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

Proposals also include making better use of user satisfaction surveys as an explicit component of the reward mechanisms for suppliers.

Other ways in which citizens' opinions can be registered and subsequently acted on include using new technologies to enable them to give rapid feedback on services.

Blair, during the launch in Hackney, East London, says: "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 that those are truly personalised services where there's a much greater diversity of provider and the old ways of working are broken down."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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