NHS Cuts Unsustainable and Effecting Patient Care
13 December 2012
The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that making savings in the health service may not be sustainable.
The NAO has warned that out of the £5.8bn savings achieved over the last year, £520m were one-off cuts which could not be replicated in future years.
The report they published also highlighted concerns that there would be little preventing a rationing of health services, and called on the government to take "a more active interest" in ensuring that patient care is not being rationed.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said, "The NHS has made a good start in making substantial efficiency savings in the first year of the four-year period when it needs to achieve savings of up to £20 billion.
"To build on these savings and keep pace with the growing demand for health care, it will need to change the way health services are provided, and to do so more quickly."
Lord Howe, Health Minister, said, "The NHS is doing well to meet its efficiency savings.
"However, if it is to meet the needs of an ageing population, it needs to seriously look at how it can improve how care is being provided, particularly to older patients and those with long-term conditions.
"The NHS must reinvest up to £20 billion into the front line by 2015 if we are to meet the challenges of an ageing population."
John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund, added, "This report echoes our own work which shows that the NHS has so far made good progress in meeting current savings targets but has a significant challenge ahead if it is to deliver £20 billion in productivity gains by 2015.
"However, the extent to which this is delivering genuine productivity gains remains unclear.
"As the report notes, efficiencies will become harder to deliver, as one-off savings such as cuts in management costs start to slow, and much will depend on whether pay increases continue to be restrained."
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said, "The overall surplus for the NHS masks some of the major financial difficulties which some organisations are facing and many of the savings have been made through short-term solutions.
"So, the focus on delivering further efficiencies now needs to move to a whole-system approach.
“Changes must happen across the whole system and it's good to hear the NAO confirm its view that service transformation – such as investing more in primary and community services – is essential to delivering sustainable efficiency savings in the future."
Source: Richard Alleyne, “telegraph.co.uk”