Further blow to Lansley’s reforms
The drive to implement reforms to the NHS under the Health and Social Care Bill is undermining attempts to make necessary efficiency savings, a highly critical Commons Health Committee report has concluded.
The public expenditure report, published today, says that NHS managers have been resorting to short-term "salami slicing" instead of taking longer-term measures to improve productivity, in order to make £20 billion savings required by 2015.
Chair of the Committee, Conservative MP and former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, said: "Both the NHS and local authorities are struggling to meet current targets in a sustainable, long-term manner that will maintain high-quality, efficient care in the future."
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that the report failed to provide any evidence to substantiate its claims, and insisted that the government's reforms are "essential if we are to put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future".
Despite receiving further criticism from the major health unions over the past week, he told the BBC's Today programme: "There has been support for the principles of what we're doing, including from many of the leading professional organisations."
However, Chairman of BMA Council Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "We would agree with many of the Committee's observations, particularly about the disruptive impact of the reforms on the NHS in England... It has distracted staff and is causing chaos on the ground even before the legislation has passed.
"It is perhaps little wonder that those trying to make efficiencies are focussed on short-term issues, such as their job prospects, and making rushed decisions on savings rather than looking to the longer term."
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By Caroline Price