A report by the House of Commons public accounts committee says that of £5.8 billion in savings reported by PCTs in 2011/12, just £3.4 billion can be substantiated.
PCTs often ‘measure and report savings in different ways’ and ‘often significant costs associated with generating savings are not taken into account’, the report warns.
The public accounts committee report says ‘most of the savings to date’ have come from freezing staff pay.
Earlier in the week, MPs on the health select committee warned that this could not be regarded as a sustainable source of savings. They warned that it is ‘neither prudent nor just to plan for sustainable efficiency on the basis that NHS pay will continue to fall relative to pay elsewhere in the economy’.
The public accounts committee report warns that although NHS performance on ‘headline indicators’ such as waiting times had been maintained, it was concerned that performance elsewhere may suffer.
The MPs highlighted warnings from charities and other sources about the impact of rationing.
BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said: ‘We share the committee’s concerns about some of the things that are happening as a result of cost pressures on the NHS. Doctors base their practice on the care of individual patients, and every day see that many of the services deemed to be of low clinical value can be immensely valuable.
‘We agree that focusing on quality and safety of care, rather than knee-jerk cost-cutting, is the best way forward in the long-term. Clearly the challenge of dealing with financial pressures is huge, and it will be best addressed if clinicians are involved in decision-making.’