Labour's cost-cutting plans revealed

A report detailing how 137,000 jobs and a range of services could be cut from the NHS has finally been released by the DoH.

Grommet procedure rate could have been slashed, under proposals (Photograph: SPL)
Grommet procedure rate could have been slashed, under proposals (Photograph: SPL)

The report, produced for the Labour government by consultants McKinsey in March 2009, looked at how the NHS in England could save up to £4 billion a year.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has distanced himself from the report. He promised that staff could be 'redeployed' to improve productivity rather than being made redundant.

The report, entitled Achieving World Class Productivity in the NHS 2009/10-2013/14, suggests that 10 per cent of the workforce could be cut and that services of little value should be dropped to save money.

It also reveals proposals to cut the primary care budget by 13 per cent and community budgets by up to 28 per cent.

The report recommends 'variation in productivity between GP practices' be reduced drastically and suggests community staff could do the same job 'with 10-15 per cent less staff'.

It suggests a number of procedures, such as insertion of grommets and tonsillectomies, could be reduced in frequency by up to 90 per cent.

When details of the contents of the report were originally revealed last year, NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said it was 'a sober analysis' of the funding crisis facing the NHS. At the time, the Labour government said it would not cut front-line services.

Last week, Mr Lansley said he was releasing the report as part of the 'drive to make government more transparent'.

The report was, he said, 'indicative of a top-down internal process intended to cut spending by cutting staff'. He maintained that, by cutting bureaucracy and variation in quality, the NHS could sustain front-line services.

'Instead of drawing conclusions from top-down analysis, people should examine the unacceptable variance in performance and focus on how staff can be redeployed in order to drive up standards,' he said.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the report's findings would have 'very little sway with the current government'. He said he hoped 'to have nothing to do with it or (McKinsey)'.

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