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Local health leaders say NHS saving plans not credible

A survey of local health leaders has revealed that 60% do not believe the NHS can achieve savings targets set by the Government.

The Nuffield Trust survey showed an even higher proportion – 67% – did not think their own area has a credible plan to fulfil savings targets for the current year.

The Government has said it will plug just £8bn of the predicted £30bn NHS funding gap by 2020, leaving commissioners with the task to find £22bn worth of efficiency savings.

Recently, former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson – who himself led the NHS through a large-scale savings exercise – said the financial pressures would lead to a ‘managed decline’ of the NHS, and the survey of local health leaders revealed 83% agreed with him.

One member of the panel, which includes 100 senior clinicians and managers across health and social care, said that on the back of efficiency savings already achieved ’opportunities to make yet more savings within this year will be very difficult to identify’.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards branded the results worrying, highlighting that the targeted efficiencies are in areas where the NHS has previously failed to achieve savings, such as avoiding hospital admissions and reducing patient demand.

He said: ’It is worrying that a majority of members of our panel believe planned savings will be very difficult to achieve.’