Health Bill savings downgrade
The government's NHS reforms are expected to save far less money than was initially claimed, according to a revised Impact Assessment report.
The report says that total gross savings are now expected to be £4.5 billion, down from the original £5.2 billion announced in January.
It now predicts £3.2-£3.3 billion net savings over the full transition period, £600 million less than previously calculated. But total redundancy costs have been downsized from £1024 to £810 million, due to a longer redundancy phase and "more natural wastage".
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley defended the reforms, saying the revised figures still show that "the cost of modernising the NHS is only a fraction of the savings which will result".
"We are cutting waste and are still on track to reduce administrative spend by a third. Every penny saved will be reinvested into patient care, delivering significant long-term benefits to patients," Mr Lansley added.
Critics have expressed concern that the true cost of the reorganisation remains unclear.
BMA GPs Committee (GPC) member Dr Helena McKeown told GP magazine that the reforms remain "tremendously risky" when £20 billion in efficiency savings are to be made.
Meanwhile a new survey by Pulse magazine confirms that many GPs are finding their patients are having access to treatments restricted. For example, 22% had found hernia operations were restricted, while 17% said hip and knee operations were being blocked.
GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the magazine that the QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) agenda is leading to "very local short-term decisions to reduce costs and a huge variation in approaches from PCTs".
GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011
By Caroline Price