Ruffley slams Department Of Health as new report suggests £7 Billion Deficit by 2010

Tuesday, 13 December, 2005

'Perhaps Patricia Hewitt and the Department of Health should call in one of their 'turnaround teams' for advice'

David Ruffley MP has today welcomed a report from Professor Nick Bosanquet, an expert in health service economics at Imperial College London, that suggests much of the extra investment in the NHS has been swallowed up by NHS inflation and unnecessary staff costs.

The report, published today by think-tank Reform, has particular poignancy in Suffolk where it has been revealed that Department of Health 'turnaround teams' are being sent to Suffolk West PCT, West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust and the Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal elements of Suffolk East PCT.

Health trusts in Suffolk are being assisted by 'turnaround teams' due to their being more than £5 million in the red but since 2000, an extra £1.6 billion, in real terms, is being spent every year on NHS administration staff.

David said:

'The Government tells us that more money than ever is going into the NHS, I like everyone else welcome this extra investment, however, what the Department of Health chooses not to share is that this money is not reaching the front line.

'This report from Professor Bosanquet, an independent expert in the field, highlights the shocking level of financial mismanagement that has occurred and continues to occur under the current Government.

'The health service in Suffolk is in crisis and everything needs to be done to turn it around. However, the real issue is that despite unparalleled investment this money is not reaching Suffolk's hard working doctors and nurses.

'I have to agree with Professor Bosanquet when he says this Government is not prepared to 'face up to the changes that would make funding and commitments fit together'.'

'The Reform report draws attention to 23 press releases issued by the Government which include spending even more money. Many of these, including Gordon Brown's promise to spend £100 million on stem cell research, are not covered by committed funds. Perhaps Patricia Hewitt and the Department of Health should call in one of their 'turnaround teams' for advice.'

Notes to Editors

The full Reform report 'The NHS in 2010: Reform or Bust' can be viewed at:

A report published by the think-tank Reform says that the National Health Service is heading for an accumulated deficit of £7 billion by 2010 (Reform, The NHS in 2010: reform or bust, 12 December 2023).

• The Reform report underlines Conservative Party analysis that much of the extra money for the NHS- money that we welcome- has been swallowed up in NHS inflation and needless staff costs. Since 2000, an extra £1.6 billion (in real terms) is being spent every year on NHS administration staff.

• Conservatives have consistently said that the NHS needs to reform. In a speech on 12 September 2005, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley called on the Government to maximise competition in the NHS to avoid some of the cost pressures identified in Reform's report.

• Although Reform's call for a stronger system of patient-led commissioning is welcome, Conservatives do not envisage commissioning power resting with Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). We have instead called for a return to GP fundholding.

• Ballooning deficits: On 1 December, the Government was forced to reveal a forecast year-end gross deficit for the 2005-06 financial year of at least £950 million. These figures confirm earlier Conservative Party analysis of a year-end deficit approaching £1 billion (Hansard, 15 November 2005, Col. 833).

• Bureaucrats: Spending on 'Administrative & Clerical', 'General and Senior Managers', 'Chairmen' and 'Department Admin' from 2000 to 2004 has increased by £1.575 billion in real terms (Hansard, 24 November 2005, Col. 2288WA). There are 50,000 more full-time equivalent administrators in the NHS than there are beds (DH, Non-medical workforce census, 22 March 2005; and DH, Bed availability and occupancy, 30 September 2023).

• Productivity: has fallen by nearly one per cent per year since 1997 despite the increased spending on the NHS (Major Step Towards Measuring Health Service Productivity, ONS, 18 October 2023). According to the Prime Minister's own former Health adviser, Simon Stevens, one per cent in productivity in the NHS is worth nearly a billion pounds (HSJ, 24 November 2023).

• Threat to Staff Numbers: According to the Royal College of Nursing, 'up to 3,000 staff in the English NHS, including at least 1,000 nurses, could lose their job because of mounting deficits' (Thousands Set to Lose Jobs as NHS Deficits Crisis Deepens, RCN, 11 October 2023).

• Community Hospitals: Conservative Party research, reported in GP on 24 October 2005, has revealed that some 150 community hospitals in England face cutbacks or closure. Dr Peter Holden, of the BMA's General Practitioner Committee, said that the 150 figure was, 'quite conceivable' (GP, Closure threat to 150 community hospitals, 24 October 2023).