MPs sceptical over NHS £20bn efficiency savings

Unprecedented financial challenges alongside White Paper reforms will 'test NHS services to the limit', according to the health select committee.

The committee’s report on public expenditure is sceptical that the NHS will be able to achieve £15-20bn in efficiency savings over between now and 2015.

Stephen Dorrell (Conservative, Charnwood), chairman of the committee, said there was ‘no precedent for efficiency gain on this scale in the history of the NHS, nor has any precedent yet been found of any healthcare system anywhere in the world doing anything similar'.

‘Those figures represent a requirement for the NHS to deliver 4% efficiency gain, four years running,’ he said.

The committee’s report also calls on the government to publish an estimated cost of the White Paper reorganisation.

The only existing estimate of the cost of the reorganisation is a £1.7bn pot set aside by the previous government for reform.

The report also reveals that NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson told the committee that PCTs will merge into clusters to save money during the handover to GP consortia.  

Shadow health secretary John Healey said: 'The plans follow promises made both before the election and in the Coalition Agreement that there would be no more top down reorganisations in the NHS - promises that have now been broken by a health secretary operating in isolation in Whitehall and running a rogue department.'

A further report by the health select committee on the White paper reforms and GP commissioning is due next year.

The DoH's full response to the White Paper consultation and the NHS Operating Framework are due to be published on Wednesday.

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