Health Coalition wields the knife

The coalition government wasted no time in confirming that Labour’s proposed savings plan for the NHS – £20bn over the next three years – would go ahead. Although it has promised to continue to increase health spending in real terms, there is no indication as to what this means in practice. Meanwhile, NHS organisations are going to have to find levels of ‘efficiency savings’ of 3% per year.

Examples of what this means in practice include:

  • Leicestershire hospitals with £58 million and 700 job cuts in 12 months.
  • Southampton hospitals – £100 million 1,400 job cuts in four years.
  • Salford Royal Hospital budget to be cut by 15% and 750 jobs to go in three years.
  • Gateshead hospitals – 100 beds face closure.
  • Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral – £13 million to be cut each year for the next three years.
  • Greater Manchester’s ten primary care trusts plan to save millions, including severely restricting children’s surgery for tonsillitis and rationing fitting grommets to the under-12s.

The deputy director for the Institute of Fiscal Studies has pointed out that a 2% increase in productivity per year is the level of the best performing private companies and that NHS productivity has fallen by 0.4% per year for a decade as a result of meeting government targets and spending on more expensive treatments and equipment. The Royal College of Nursing has suggested that job losses could reach 36,000.

The government has called a halt to the expensive and unpopular Darzi plan for a network of polyclinics in London coupled with widespread hospital closures. However, fine talk about the ‘devolution of responsibility to clinicians and the public with an improved focus on quality’, (Andrew Lansley, Tory health secretary in the coalition) masks the reality: there will still be reductions in services and job losses as the NHS in London attempts to meet its efficiency savings, and there is no intention of halting Labour’s privatisation drive.

Hannah Caller

FRFI 215 June/ July 2010

 

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