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NHS Reorganisation (Costs)

Volume 542: debated on Tuesday 27 March 2012

The cost of the NHS modernisation is estimated to be between £1.2 billion and £1.3 billion. It will save £4.5 billion over the rest of this Parliament and £1.5 billion a year to 2020. We will reinvest every penny saved in the NHS in front-line services.

The Bolton clinical commissioning group estimates that its budget will be about £25 per Bolton resident, or £100 for a couple with two children. Is that not too much, considering that they will get no medical treatment at all from that money, just administration money paid to doctors who should really be treating patients and not sat in the back office?

No, I do not believe it is. The administration figure that has been announced for CCGs throughout the country is £25 a patient, but if a CCG is more effective and efficient in providing administration and bureaucracy and makes savings, those savings can be transferred and reinvested in funding the care of their patients. That is an incentive for them to be streamlined and to ensure that that happens.

The Minister speaks of reinvesting every single penny in the NHS budget. How does that fit with the £500 million raid on the NHS budget spoken of this week?

If I could explain this to the hon. Gentleman, the £500 million that he is talking about was part of the savings made through renegotiating the IT contract. It is a perfectly normal procedure, because as the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) will know, the average figure for previous years was £850 million, and one year when he was a Minister at the Department of Health, it was £2.3 billion.

As part of the reorganisation, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has decided—rightly in my view—that the Health Professions Council will regulate Chinese medical practitioners, but there is widespread concern in the community that these practitioners will not have protection of title. Will he please ensure that they do when he finishes his consultation?

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend and, as his question suggested, there is a consultation process. I can give him an assurance that the point that he has made will be fully considered as part of that consultation process.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the NHS reorganisation will abolish the strategic health authority in the eastern region, which will save £46 million a year—money that will be spent on front-line services in Harlow and elsewhere?

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing that out. It is crucial that we slim down the bureaucracy and management of the NHS so that we can make savings, so that they can go where they should—to provide more care for patients in the NHS.

Last week in the emergency debate, the Secretary of State said:

“Risk registers…are not a prediction of the future. They set out a worst-case scenario”.—[Official Report, 20 March 2012; Vol. 542, c. 676.]

I now have an early version of the risk register that civil servants gave him in September 2010. Risk No. 7 of his reorganisation was that “Financial control is lost.” That was red rated and, according to the document, likely to happen with major consequences. Is it not clear that last week the Secretary of State gave an inaccurate description of the risk registers he saw, and should he not now come to the Dispatch Box to correct the record?

May I reassure you, Mr Speaker, if not so much the right hon. Gentleman, that my right hon. Friend did not mislead anyone? The answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s question is the same as he and his predecessors pursued under the last Labour Government—and was pursued under the Thatcher and Major Governments—which is that Ministers do not comment on leaked documents.

The rest of the world is, and we would be interested to hear the Government’s views on it. Here we have it in full colour. It is not the worst-case scenario, as the Secretary of State claimed, but 43 very real and predictable risks, 21 of which are red rated and 14 likely to happen with major consequences. They include:

“Emergencies…less well managed…more failures…GP consortia go bust or have to cut services…performance dips and key staff lost”.

Is it not now clear for all to see that the Secretary of State and his Ministers have knowingly taken major risks with the national health service, ignored warnings from civil servants and kept those risks secret from Parliament in order to get their unnecessary Bill through?

I am not quite sure which word in my last answer the right hon. Gentleman did not understand, so I will repeat it. Like previous Governments, we do not comment on leaked documents. Instead of coming to the Dispatch Box and talking down the fantastic work that nurses and doctors do day in and day out, why does he not read the quarter, the latest copy of which is full of facts about how the NHS is improving its performance and delivering better quality care for patients throughout England?