Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee

The likelihood of cuts to health and social care services, and the destabilising effect of the Coalition’s market-driven NHS reforms, were endorsed today in a remarkable health select committee report. The committee, with a coalition majority and chaired by ex-Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell, was reporting on implications and risks from the Spending Review.

The likelihood of cuts to health and social care services, and the destabilising effect of the Coalition’s market-driven NHS reforms, were endorsed today in a remarkable health select committee report. The committee, with a coalition majority and chaired by ex-Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell, was reporting on implications and risks from the Spending Review.

The report demolishes the case that the coalition has delivered a real terms increase in the NHS budget, given the diversion of NHS funding to social care and recent OBR inflation estimates:

“The government’s commitment to a real terms increase in health funding throughout the Spending Review period will not be met. This emphasises the fact that the settlement, although generous when compared to other departments, represents a substantial challenge to the NHS.”

Reviewing the efficiency savings set for the NHS at between £15-20 billion over the next four years, representing a requirement for the NHS to deliver 4 per cent efficiency gains, for four years running, the committee says:

“There is no precedent for efficiency gain on this scale in the history of the NHS, nor has any precedent yet been found of any healthcare system anywhere in the world doing anything similar.”

Yet the coalition’s reform plans are getting in the way, argues the committee:

“… efforts to meet the spending challenge in a coherent way are being complicated by the lack of a clear ‘narrative’ from central government…

“Numerous witnesses pointed to the additional risks created for the NHS by the proposed restructuring of NHS management.”

The report says there are a number of signs that cuts were being passed off as efficiency gains and cites reports that health trusts were:

“… warning that their plans rely on huge cuts and spending all contingency funds.”

Other trusts were reportedly ceasing to offer IVF treatment to new patients, stopping minor surgery at GPs’ clinics, and delaying non-urgent hospital treatment.

There is also concern about social care services, and the knock-on impact of the local authority cuts for the NHS. The report refers to “uncertainty” for social care spending levels, given a 26 per cent real reduction in local government budgets over the CSR period, the removal of ring-fencing for social care grant funding, and a

“… generally accepted figure for an ageing population of 4 per cent cost increase per year.”

It sounds a clear warning that:

“… it is widely accepted that when failures occur in adult social services, the burden falls on the NHS in the form of poor health outcomes, avoidable hospital admissions, delayed discharges and so on.”

There is an open challenge to the assurances given by health secretary Andrew Lansley, with the committee:

“… therefore unable to conclude that councils could sustain care levels without reducing eligibility criteria [for social care].”

Overall the report adds further pressure on Mr Lansley, given the scrutiny role for the health reforms given to cabinet fixer Oliver Letwin by Number 10, and the delay to the publication of the coalition’s Health Bill.

Against this background, Paul Corrigan has highlighted the progressive increase in public support for the NHS since 1997. The British Social Attitudes survey published this week finds that the proportion of people satisfied with the NHS had gone up from 34% in 1997 to a record high of 64% in 2009. Whereas in 1997, 50% were either “quite” or “very” dissatisfied with the NHS, now it is 19%.

The BSA report says:

“Increased satisfaction partly reflects the fact that people recognise and value the improvements that have taken place within the NHS, particularly in relationship to waiting times.”

Having lost an argument on tuition fee increases, health and care cuts are increasingly the next rallying point against the coalition’s public service reforms.

11 Responses to “Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee”

  1. mark wright

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  2. Andy S

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  3. Steve W

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  4. Wendy Maddox

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  5. Kevin Richards

    ITS NOT WORKING -RT leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee //bit.ly/gutWXz

  6. Mr. Sensible

    All these reasons show us that Andrew Lansley needs to obandon this reorganization of the NHS and think again.

  7. Oli Foster-Burnell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  8. Staffordshire UNISON

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to NHS and social care services likely, says health select committee: //bit.ly/fp1RuR

  9. The Photon

    There is certainly room to examine closely the way in which money is spent within the NHS. Being the hot political potato that it is, it is endlessly subjected to targets, new systems and gee-whizz changes that rarely, if ever, bring improvements. It’s right to protect the NHS as a concept, but I think it’s undeniable that quite significant changes need to be – and can be – made.

  10. Mr. Sensible

    These targets give patients certain things that they should be able to expect.

    It’s alright for Lansley to talk about giving power to patients, but if he gets rid of the guarantees currently given to them that’s a bit of a blunt statement.

  11. Lynne Heal

    I worked for NHS for a few years,now I need help its not there properly at all.I have paid into the system for over 24 years also.The WW1 and two after went into a bad recession,where to later workers paid into a NI and TAX to allow free NHS am sure many that lost their lifes will be turning in their graves.UK was the best healthcare in the whole world .

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