Watchdog reveals £1.1bn cost of NHS reforms

NHS reforms implemented by the coalition government had cost £1.1bn by the end of March 2013, a National Audit Office (NAO) report reveals.

Funding: NHS reforms cost £1.1bn to March 2013

More than 10,000 NHS staff were made redundant as part of the changes, at a cost of more than £430m.

Although the report says the reforms were ‘a success’ in that new NHS organisations were ready to take over from 1 April 2013, it makes clear that many did so with major gaps in staffing and doubts over funding.

Huge sums appear to have been wasted on redundancies with almost a quarter – 2,200 – of staff made redundant subsequently re-employed by the NHS.

Average redundancy payouts of £43,095 per person could not be reclaimed unless staff were re-hired within four weeks.

The RCGP said it was 'dismayed' at the revelations. RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: 'This is a flagrant waste of money at a time when  the NHS - in particular general practice - is buckling under the pressure of ever-increasing workload and ever-decreasing resources.'

The number of NHS organisations cut under the reforms was 170, outweighed by the 240 created, the report says.

The DH estimates lower administrative costs in new NHS organisations had saved more than £2bn by the end of March.

But the NAO suggests this figure may overestimate the true savings by hundreds of millions of pounds.

The NAO report adds that the DH has pledged that the cost of its reforms will not exceed £1.7bn. But the DH ‘does not have robust up-to-date data on the costs that are expected to be incurred in 2013/14 and beyond’, the NAO reports.

The coalition’s NHS reforms overall were ‘a success’ in that new organisations were ready to take on responsibility for services from April, the NAO says.

But it warns that organisations’ readiness to take responsibility for services was hugely variable. Some went live with more than 10% of posts vacant. Many organisations were left in doubt about their budgets, with some still being set by NHS England beyond April, the report says. In many cases rapid changes to organisations meant key staff filling dual roles.

At Public Health England, immunisation and screening services were the ‘front-line area that caused most concern’.

The report says: ‘These posts were regarded as essential and a failure to recruit staff quickly was highlighted as a serious risk in summer 2012. However, a third of these posts remained vacant in early April 2013 (including 10% of clinical consultant-level posts).’

Dr Gerada said savings generated by the reforms were not significant enough to justify them, and warned that the changes were 'a diversion away from providing the best possible care for patients'.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in


  • Clinical Lead Menlo Park Recruitment East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Clinical Lead Menlo Park Recruitment Cottingham
  • Private GP Menlo Park Recruitment Tunbridge Wells
  • GP Partner Menlo Park Recruitment Fareham
  • GP Tuakau Health Centre New Zealand (Tuakau - Franklin Region)

Just published

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

BMA urges Lords to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...

Patient satisfaction screen

How a GP practice worked with patients to stop a torrent of complaints

A GP practice has seen complaints drop from 50-plus a day to just four in 10 months...

British Army soldiers marching

How the NHS Op COURAGE service can help support veterans

Armed forces veterans often have unique health needs. Clinical staff from London...

GP consultation

Continuity of care would save millions of GP appointments each year, new study finds

GP workload would be significantly reduced if continuity of care was prioritised...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Visa sponsor shortage threatens GP workforce, locum GPs struggle to find work, record appointments

The GPonline team discusses the key news stories affecting general practice in our...

RCGP sign

RCGP condemns threat to retention funding as third of GPs consider quitting

Funding for GP retention risks being stripped away to cover other financial pressures...