NHS must axe managers to bring down costs, say GPs

Axing NHS managers is GPs' preferred way of addressing the NHS funding shortfall, according to a GP newspaper poll.

How to cut NHS costs
How to cut NHS costs

The finding comes a month after DoH workforce statistics showed the number of NHS managers had nearly doubled in the past decade.

The DoH says the NHS must cut costs by £20 billion over the next five years. A total of 88 per cent of GPs who took part in the poll said NHS managers should be cut to achieve this. Two-thirds (71 per cent) want more self care to cut demand, and 45 per cent think the NHS drugs bill can be reduced.

Some GPs back more radical ideas. A handful of the 639 respondents advocated charging for some NHS services. One partner in Kent backed a £10 fee for attending A&E and £5 for GP visits to reduce 'frivolous attendances'. The fee should go to 'the NHS, not the hospital or practice', he said.

Others said that patients' expectations of the NHS need to be reduced. 'Stop constantly ballooning patient demands with an instant, 24-hour-access culture', wrote one partner.

Other comments hinted at growing tension between practices as funding dries up. 'Stop paying PMS practices ridiculous sums agreed in different financial circumstances,' wrote a Warwickshire GP. 'Pay per patient should be standardised.'

Just 4 per cent of GPs suggested partners should cut profits. A total of 39 per cent called for more GP commissioning power and 23 per cent wanted more work to be passed to primary care from hospitals.

A spokesman for the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS managers, said there was a need to 'streamline' management. But he said it accounted for just 5 per cent of total NHS funding. 'Savings are going to have to be made by looking at less popular options,' he said.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said NHS spending on managers was low compared with the US. 'It's always easy to throw an axe at managers. The key to making savings is investment in primary and community services and encouraging self care.'

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