With everything else that has been going on, this has been a bad week for burying good news. The NHS making £4.3bn efficiency savings in the last financial year doesn’t have the same wow factor as riots and looting.
According to the Audit Commission’s latest report, PCTs saved 1.9 percent and NHS Trusts saved 4.3 percent. Both were improvements on last year’s savings. This is some achievement when you consider all the other crap NHS trusts have had to deal with over the last year.
The trick is to make these savings stick and to find even more each year. This, as the Audit Commission says, is about to get much harder. Even the 4.3 percent, while impressive, is still short of the 5 percent the government says the service needs to save if it is to cope with rapidly rising demand over the next few years. The real-terms freeze in funding from this year “represents a step change to NHS funding” says the report. 5 percent per year is still a tall order, however good a start the NHS has made.
Even so, when you are trying to deal with the biggest reorganisation the health service has ever seen, and all the aggro that goes with it, managing to make any savings at all is not far short of miraculous.