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Auditors raise questions over existence of QIPP savings

The Government’s auditors have questioned whether the £5.8bn savings reported under the QIPP programme have been achieved without inappropriately restricting patients’access to care.

The National Audit Office said the NHS in England has made a ‘good start’ on making efficiency savings in 2011-12, but they criticised the ‘limited assurance’ the Department of Health had on whether the figures were accurate.

The NAO also said that the DH did not know whether NHS bosses were generating the savings by increased rationing of treatments, rather than genuine service change.

A report released by the auditors today said that PCTs had reported £5.8bn savings under QIPP, just shy of the Department of Health’s projected savings of £5.9bn.

But the NAO’s own review of the DH’s analysis of national pay, activity and other data found a total of £3.4 billion of NHS efficiency savings.

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The NAO said that the majority of the savings made in 2011-12 were through the pay freeze for public sector staff, but that this had been lifted for 2013/14. Savings were also made through reductions in the prices PCTs pay for healthcare and cutting back-office costs.

A statement from the NAO said: ‘There is limited assurance that all the reported savings were achieved. The chief executives of PCTs are required to confirm they are content with the accuracy of their savings data, but the Department does not validate or gain independent assurance about the data reported.’

It added: ‘The Department does not know whether the demand for healthcare is being managed in ways that inappropriately restrict patients’ access to care.

‘Reducing demand and redesigning care pathways to treat patients in the most appropriate setting are key ways of generating savings.’

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 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 healthcare, it will need to change the way health services are provided and to do so more quickly.’

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: ‘The hard truth is that an increase in staff pay rates next year would make the required efficiency savings all the more difficult for years to come, not just in that year.

‘I want to ensure that we minimise any detrimental impact on job security and patient services.’