Head of Health, 2014-15
Thomas Cawston is Head of the Health Unit at Policy Exchange. Before joining Policy Exchange he was Research Director at the centre right think tank Reform, where he lead the healthcare programme. He has co-authored reports on competition in the NHS, health funding, disruptive innovation and reforming the NHS workforce. He has visited and studied health providers and systems in North America, Europe and South Asia. He has frequently commented on NHS reform in the print and broadcast media, including on The Daily Politics and Moral Maze. Before joining Reform in 2009, he read a Masters in South Asian History at the University of Oxford and a BA in History and Politics at the University of Exeter.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, reviews the Coalition's record on providing patient choice in the health service. Thomas finds a mixed set of results on patient choice and argues that policymakers need to actively manage the extent to which patients are being offered a choice in care services.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, considers the financial pressure that the NHS is under, with one in four Trusts and Foundation Trusts now in deficit. Thomas argues that the NHS must find new ways to work with other sectors or it will be stuck on a cost escalator for a long time to come.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, examines what he believes could be one of the Coalition's most important health reforms - the ability for GP practices to register patients outside their practice boundary area. Thomas argues that patients' ability to choose their GP practice will drive up standards in the service under which nine out of ten interactions with the NHS occur.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, responds to today's Autumn Statement and the announcement that the NHS will receive £2 billion in extra funds each year. Thomas argues that while the extra cash will bring a sigh of relief for many in the NHS - particularly in a time of austerity - the public will only accept higher spending if it delivers a better health service and not simply maintains inefficient services that fail to meet patients’ needs.
Ahead of tomorrow's Autumn Statement, and the expectation that the Chancellor will earmark a further £2 billion for the NHS, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, Thomas Cawston, considers where that money will come from and exactly where it should be spent. He argues that even with the extra cash, the NHS still faces a huge funding gap that can only be met by efficiency and reform.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, sets out how, with Simon Stevens of NHS England seizing the health policy initiative with his Forward View, the NHS needs to find a way for politicians to pull their weight without just bringing the money to the table or getting in the way. Thomas argues that there is still expertise in Whitehall that can be put to good use and identifies the policy areas that are crying out for ministerial attention.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, criticises Clive Efford MP's Private Members' Bill aimed at reversing the supposed "privatisation" of the NHS. Thomas points out that the NHS has made use of the private sector for years, and that only 6 pence in ever pound spent by the NHS goes to the private sector.
Thomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, argues that technology and stratification are the key to improving general practice. Allowing patients to hold their records and interact with medical professional online could reduce the need for face-to-face appointments. And GPs should stop trying to be all things to all people and specialise instead - the needs of young working age people are quite different from elderly people with chronic illness.
Ministers and policymakers have accepted that “one size fits all” is no longer suitable in today’s NHSThomas Cawston, Policy Exchange's Head of Health, sets out why a national approach may not be the most effective way to deliver coordinated health and care services. In a system based on local innovation, and local leadership and ownership of change, Ministers and policymakers need to accept that "one size fits all" is no longer suitable in today's NHS.
Policy Exchange’s newly appointed Head of Health, Thomas Cawston, argues that, while politicians may be wary of health reform, the scale of the challenge and the size of the opportunity is too important an issue to push to the side-lines.