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Clegg promises to plough efficiency savings back into NHS

By Steve Nowottny

The 2004 GMS contract has had ‘no clear benefit’ for patients and is an example of waste the Liberal Democrats would remove from the NHS, the party’s leader Nick Clegg has warned.

In a keynote speech to the Royal College of Nursing congress in Bournemouth, Mr Clegg guaranteed that money saved through an ambitious cost-cutting programme would be ploughed back into the health service ‘penny for penny, pound for pound.’

He singled out the GP contract as a key area where money had been wasted, arguing that both the GP and consultant contracts had been ‘poorly negotiated with no benefit for patients’.

He then promised to reinvest funds released through efficiency savings in ‘Cinderella services’ such as cancer, dementia and mental health.

He told delegates: ‘We will look for efficiency and unnecessary programmes of spending wherever they live. But because the NHS faces exceptional demographic pressures, savings we identify within the health service will be diverted, penny for penny, pound for pound, to areas of the NHS which have been starved of cash, or could be in future years.’

‘Areas like dementia, where demographic pressures are high, cancer, where the costs of treatment and rising, and mental health, which has been a Cinderella service within the NHS for far too long.’

Among the savings outlined by Mr Clegg were proposals to cut PCT management and administration costs, saving £800 million a year, scrapping strategic health authorities, saving £140 million a year, and cutting the Department of Health in half, saving £100 million a year.

He also pledged to cap NHS chief executives’ pay to ensure that ‘none earn more than the Prime Minister.’

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Follow the latest with Pulse’s election tracker Pulse election tracker Read Nick Clegg’s speech in full

To read a full transcript of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s keynote speech to the Royal College of Nursing congress in Bournemouth, please click here.