The government's NHS reforms have been "disastrous"

A respected health policy think tank, the King's Fund, has blasted the government's restructuring of the health service.

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Bad news for David Cameron, and another "weapon" in Ed Miliband's NHS armoury, as a think tank blasts the coalition's "disastrous" health reforms.

A think tank respected on health policy, the King's Fund, has found the government's restructuring of the NHS "distracted" from patient care. Its chief executive, Chris Ham, told the BBC:

People in the NHS focused on rearranging the deckchairs rather than the core business of improving patient care.

That's contributed to the increasing waiting times and declining performance that patients are experiencing.

The think tank report finds the government's "set of policies designed to streamline and simplify the organisation of the NHS ended up having the opposite effect" and adds that the new system is "bewildering in its complexity" and has left a "strategic vacuum" in some areas.

Although this criticism was just reserved for the first three years of the government's changes, and the think tank's report found focus to have returned to patient care in the past two years, this report is still a big blow to the Prime Minister. His party has been suffering a lack of trust from the electorate on the health service ever since it began pushing the controversial Health and Social Care Bill (now an Act), which is something Labour has been playing to its advantage in the polls.

The report also levelled criticism at Labour, accusing it of "crying wolf" with "ill-founded" claims that the coalition has been privatising the NHS. I have also argued that the opposition's cries of "privatisation" lack authenticity, considering the last Labour government's role in letting the market in. Yet if independent bodies are nevertheless focusing on the government's failures regarding the NHS, this will only fuel the success Miliband has had so far in making the subject central to his election campaign.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.