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Unions attack cost of NHS reforms


Union leaders have criticised the government after it emerged that the controversial NHS reforms are to cost £300m more than previously thought.

Unison accused ministers of “wasting money” after the health secretary admitted that implementing the Health and Social Care Act is now expected to cost the taxpayer between £1.5bn and £1.6bn.

The cost of rolling out the reforms was initially thought to be between £1.2bn and £1.3bn, Jeremy Hunt said in a written statement to the House of Commons.

The news comes as the Department of Health’s (DH) annual accounts for 2011 to 2012 showed that 28,000 NHS jobs were lost in just one year.

The number of people employed by the health service fell by 2.55% between 2011 to 2012, from 1,125,877 to 1,097,180.

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “This is an absolute disgrace. Taxpayers have every right to be furious that government is wasting more money on these disastrous, unnecessary changes to our NHS instead of on treating patients and employing more nurses.

“£1.5 billion to £1.6 billion is an obscene amount of money to spend on a reorganisation and the Government should not be spending this money when the NHS is cutting back on patient care, on staff and on their pay and conditions.”

The DH’s annual accounts state that the department “met all of its financial duties for the year”.

It said that the NHS ended the year with a “very strong financial performance” achieving an overall surplus of £2bn.

The accounts show that overall revenue expenditure for the DH increased by 2.9% to £101.6bn - up from £100.3bn in 2010 to 2011.

The report states that spending on frontline services for patients increased in real terms by 1% and the department made significant savings in administration costs.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the British Medical Association, said the cost rise for the implementation of the Act was “galling”.

“The huge costs of this largely unnecessary reorganisation are particularly galling given that patient services are being rationed,” he said.

“It is difficult to believe that the changes will generate cumulative savings of £5.5bn. While some costs have been reduced through reductions in administrative spending, these are unlikely to be sustainable on the same scale in the longer term.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “These are one-off costs. By investing in these changes we will be able to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and free up extra resources - £5.5bn during this Parliament and £1.5bn every year thereafter - for patient care.

“There are more clinical staff working in the NHS than there were in May 2010, including nearly 3,500 more doctors, and over 900 extra midwives. And the number of staff delivering NHS services in the community is estimated to have risen by 25,000 in recent years. In contrast, the number of admin staff has fallen by over 18,000. This is creating savings that will help protect the NHS for future generations.”



Readers' comments (16)

  • disgusting.

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  • Christ, the first £300 million was bad enough, and now that cost is doubling. What a shocker. It will triple, quadruple, before long, mark my words. How many extra doctors and nurses would this 600 million plus have paid for? How many wards could have been kept open?

    F*****g idiots!!!

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  • more clinical staff working in the NHS? - really, then why has the North Mid had to close it's A&E overnight.

    What a load of rubbish, absolute disgraceful behaviour.

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  • tinkerbell

    at leat 3.3 billion then? Austerity measures my derriere, when it suits them.

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  • I never knew that this country would come to this, treating the NHS this way and managing the NHS like a pack of fools , if only I knew, I would never have left my country, when they came to recruit for nurses in the eighties.
    I am stuck in the mud now.

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  • The reforms are a vehicle for moving taxpayers money from frontline services tp the pockets of the wealthy. It doesn't matter to the gvt what it costs, the gvt is pimp of companies like Virgin. Taken from 'From the Green Benches' blog:
    The Tories are abolishing all 156 Primary Care Trusts throughout England and replacing them with Doctors' Committees otherwise known as Clinical Commissioning Groups. Those doctors will then decide how £300,000,000,000.00 of NHS money is spent over the life time of a Parliament. It places an immense amount of economic power in the hands of these doctors who could, if they wish, hand vast swathes of our NHS over to Virgin Care.

    That is why I am particularly concerned to find that 21 of these Doctor Committees throughout England are heavily staffed by 88 Doctors who have shares in Virgin Care, or who work for Richard Branson's Virgin Care partnership network. The GP Practices in Virgin Care's network get to keep 50% of the profits they make.  The total budgets over a 5 year period that these 21 CCGs are responsible for is £27.5bn and this places an extraordinary amount of power in the hands of doctors linked to Virgin Care. See a full list of the committees and details below. I include a 5 year figure because many of the contracts they will award will be of that length.

    Also two of the recent great NHS giveaways were judged illegal (strange how they were little reported):
    Today, a judge has decided that NHS Devon "acted illegally" when they awarded a £140,000,000 contract to Richard Branson to profit from sick children in Devon. The judge agreed that Devon PCT had not carried out "due digilence", nor had it conducted an impact assessment on the effect the decision would have on minorities. See the full details of that (here).

    Shamefully, although a judge ruled the Tories were wrong to block the Risk Register, the Tories refused to comply with the judges order to publish it. Equally, although a judge has decided that Devon PCT acted illegally in handing a £140m contract to Virgin Care, the judge cannot prevent the contract going ahead because it is too late to begin a whole new tendering process without affecting patient care. Twice judges have decided illegality has played a part in the NHS carve up. Twice their judgement has had zero impact in changing Tory policy.

    Below is the full judgement of the Information Tribunal into the Lansley's appeal of the Information Commissioner's November order to publish the NHS Risk Register after Labour MP & former Shadow Health Secretary John Healey's initial requests to do so back in June 2011.  In this case the court unanimously decided that the NHS Bill was contrary to the Tory manifesto, unexpected, rushed, far reaching, pre-judged and without proper consultation. In effect, the judgement implies that the Tories cynically hid their plans to carve up the NHS prior to the 2010 election. 

    The exact wording of paragraph 85 is shown below.

    “From the evidence it is clear that the NHS reforms were introduced in an exceptional way. There was no indication prior to the White Paper that such wide-ranging reforms were being considered. The White Paper was published without prior consultation. It was published within a very short period after the Coalition Government came into power. It was unexpected. Consultation took place afterwards over what appears to us a very short period considering the extent of the proposed reforms. The consultation hardly changed policy but dealt largely with implementation. Even more significantly the Government decided to press ahead with some of the policies even before laying a Bill before Parliament. The whole process had to be paused because of the general alarm at what was happening”

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  • this money could have been given to those hospitals who are bankrupt, pay for more staff, more beds, more community services.

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  • i hope all of you nursing staff, and thier will be many, who voted in these idiots

    hope you are so proud of what you have helped them achieve

    the nhs is finished...well done cameron

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  • anon 11.47 - I didn't vote conservative, never have and never will. Thatcher started the ruin of the NHS.

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  • Florence

    I was one of those idiots who voted Tory in 2010. Never again. I totally hold my hands up and admit how foolish I was. Part of me does not want to believe what Ive just read about the Devon PCT.
    However I know it is true. And I do remember there was very little coverage of the story at the time. How very convenient !!
    The Tories had the chance to do some good when they were voted in .Of course I now realise that there has been very few politicians who really do have any genuine concern for health and social care in the UK.

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