Health secretary to set out £10bn NHS savings plan

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will today set out measures to deliver up to £10bn in savings across the NHS by 2020 in a speech responding to NHS England's blueprint for the health service.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt: savings plans (Photo: JH Lancy)
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt: savings plans (Photo: JH Lancy)

Innovation and better use of technology must be ‘centre-stage’ in the drive to ensure the NHS is financially sustainable in the future, he will argue.

Plans to make GP records available to patients from spring 2015, and full access to care records by 2017 – with patients able to write comments into their patient records but unable to edit doctors’ entries – are at the heart of the plans.

Mr Hunt will say that a strong economy, more integrated care closer to home, innovation and efficiency and an open and transparent culture are the key elements underpinning the future of the NHS.

Savings plan revealed

But savings of between £7bn and £10bn must come from areas including cutting clinical errors, reducing use of agency staff and management consultants, and selling off unused NHS property, he will say.

‘If we are to be truly financially sustainable we need to rethink how we spend money in a much more fundamental way,’ Mr Hunt will argue.

The comments brought an angry response from the co-leader of a political party set up to oppose the coalition government’s health reforms.

National Health Action party co-chair Dr Clive Peedell said: ‘Is Jeremy Hunt suffering from amnesia or just plain disingenuous? Many of the problems he’s saying need to be clamped down on have been created by his own goverment’s policies.

Health Act criticised

‘The escalating use of agency staff and management consultant is a direct result of the coalition’s disastrous Heath and Social Care Act. And calling for NHS lands to be sold off is short termism for the NHS. You can only sell assets to pay for running costs for a very short time before they run out and you’ve got no infrastructure left.’

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘David Cameron spent more than £1 billion on pay-offs for NHS managers during the re-organisation – a scandalous waste of money when patient care is heading backwards.’

How Jeremy Hunt hopes to make £10bn savings

  • Reduce £2.5bn annual cost of avoidable harm

  • Minimise prescribing errors - possible £551m saving

  • Cut wastage of unused drugs - possible £150m saving

  • Improve procurement - possible £1.5bn saving

  • Bring down £2.5bn annual agency staff bills

  • Sell off surplus land and estates - unused land in London alone worth £1.5bn

  • Recoup £500m a year from visitors and migrants by middle of next parliament

  • Reduce administration costs - £300m saving target for 2015/16

  • Reduce spend on management consultants – currently around £500m a year

  • Make better use of IT

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