In 2010 a target was set by NHS leaders to make £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2015 in order to make more funds available for treating patients and to allow the NHS to respond to changing demand and new technology. Under my right hon. Friend’s inspirational leadership as a Health Minister, the NHS broadly delivered on this original challenge, reporting savings of £19.4 billion over this period. All these savings have been reinvested into front-line NHS services.
As Members would imagine, I warmly welcome that answer from the Minister. Would he confirm that those savings were achieved through greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of care and by cutting waste in the NHS that occurred between 2002 and 2007? Can he confirm that the benefit of that achievement to the NHS is that not a single penny of those savings goes to the Treasury, but is reinvested in the NHS and front-line services?
My right hon. Friend managed to include several questions in his impressive supplementary. I can confirm that much of the waste that took place in the years he cited—2002 to 2007—related to projects of the previous Labour Government that they themselves then cancelled, such as the IT project. I can also confirm that savings generated in the NHS are kept in the NHS. Lord Carter, whose report I referred to earlier, has identified £5 billion of efficiency savings, which we hope to deliver during this Parliament.
There is a distinction to be drawn between realistic efficiency targets and systematic underfunding. Only last month, Simon Stevens told the Public Accounts Committee that for three of the next five years
“we did not get what we originally asked for”.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, also said last month that
“we’ve got a huge gap coming… it’s the chairs and chief executives on the front line…who are saying they cannot make this add up any longer.”
On funding, the Government keep saying that the NHS is getting all that it has asked for; those actually running the NHS say something quite different. Who is right?
The hon. Gentleman stood on a manifesto 18 months ago in which his party was not prepared to commit the funding that our party was prepared to commit. Labour committed £5.5 billion to the NHS; we committed £8 billion, and we have delivered £10 billion.