Cuts Don't Cure: Q&A
How much has to be saved?
What is the impact?
The reality is that the NHS is not able to save these huge amounts by increases in productivity, therefore they are having to find savings by making sizeable cuts.
The impact of these cuts reaches all parts of our NHS. Patients are suffering delays in treatment or have been denied it altogether. Nearly all PCTs are limiting some treatments. Hospitals are closing departments and all parts of the NHS are making tough decisions in the knowledge that these savings will have to be made every year until at least 2015
What will happen next?
Half of the health service's chief executives expect the quality of patient care to decline in the next year, with treatments rationed and waiting times rising, NHS Finance directors also predict that the NHS will struggle to meet the targets.
6000 nursing posts have been lost and far more frontline clinical posts will be affected over the next year, So far savings have been achieved by shedding thousands of non clinical posts. The end of the NHS staff pay freeze will also raise the pressure.
Kings Fund economist, John Appleby agrees that these targets are not achievable, especially if they are extended to £50bn by 2019
Where did the idea come from?
McKinsey management consultants, who represent the interests of many private health providers and stand to gain a large share of the NHS’s annual £110bn budget.
The efficiency savings were based on an assumption that NHS productivity had gone down in recent years despite large increases in funding. The idea was to improve the amount of work done by setting a target for improving efficiency, but critics say the target is far too ambitious and is only being achieved by making damaging cuts.
McKinsey have been reported to be entertaining senior NHS officials with trips abroad, buying them opera tickets and business class transatlantic flights.
How do the targets fit in with the wider NHS changes
Such substantial savings are being made at the same time as huge structural change, which in itself is predicted to cost £3bn. Just as NHS hospitals and community services struggle to cope financially the government is ratcheting up the pressure, by opening the NHS to far greater competition from the private sector. The timing of this expansion is bound to hasten the privatisation of NHS services as many tradtiional service will lose out or go under.