Cuts Watch #340: NHS cuts
Respected voices have warned that the “efficiency savings” demanded by Andrew Lansley mean that “care will suffer”. At the same time an influential government committee has advised him that these savings will not be sufficient to hit his spending targets, and that deep cuts will be necessary in social care and cancer research.
Writing in yesterday’s Observer, Peter Carter (General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing) argued that £20 billion of ‘efficiency savings’ meant the NHS faced “some of the most widespread cuts in its history” with 27,000 NHS posts at risk. He raised the spectre of a return to the 1990s, adding that
The NHS is not yet returning to the days of interminable waits for treatment and trolleys in corridors, but we are worried that on the trajectory already started, it may only be a matter of time until it does.
The Guardian quotes supportive statements from Mike Jackson, national officer for health at Unison, Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA’s hospital consultants committee and Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The Guardian has followed this with a leaked letter to Danny Alexander from the Independent Challenge Group – set up by the Treasury as part of the Spending Review process. In it, the Group claims that the Department of Health is ‘complacent’, that the efficiency savings are being achieved too slowly and that the government will have to choose between increased waiting times and increasing spending by as much as £10 billion a year. The letter adds that “even greater” cuts in social care may be needed and argues that the government should cease its £200 million a year contribution to the work of cancer research charities.