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NHS England ‘substantially off target’ with £22bn savings plan

The NHS is ‘substantially off target’ with its own efficiency plan, the NHS Five Year Forward View, the Health Foundation has warned.

The plan, published in 2014, said that there would be a £30bn annual funding gap by 2020/21 without changing how the NHS was operating but that this could be reduced to £8bn by making £22bn worth of efficiency savings – a gap the Government has pledged to plug.

But the foundation has analysed a technical briefing – published by NHS England yesterday in response to questions from the House of Commons Health Committee – finding that the NHS saved only £1bn last year.

The briefing made clear that NHS England expects local NHS services ‘to find around £15bn in efficiencies’, while other savings relates to central cost reductions to be achieved by NHS England.

But Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said this showed required savings were not being achieved.

She said: ’[B]y its own estimate, the NHS delivered savings of just £1bn towards this last year, confirming that the health system is substantially off target with its efficiency plan. At its heart this reflects fundamental weakness in the approach to efficiency in the NHS – too much reliance on one-off savings.

’What is now crucial is a comprehensive plan with clear accountability for how these savings can be achieved in reality. Patients and the public also need assurance that these savings will be genuine efficiencies and not simply reductions in quality.’

Medical accountant Bob Senior, head of medical services at RSM, told Pulse: ’The question that comes to mind is how secondary care [providers] are likely to achieve their share of those efficiency savings.

’In the past we have seen one of the ways that they have done that is by passing work down to primary care without adequate funding, which some would say is one of the factors that has got primary care to the position it is in.’


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