Lansley under pressure as NHS reform costs spiral

By staff

Health secretary Andrew Lansley was under intense political pressure today after it was revealed his cost-cutting reorganisation of the NHS would cost £1.7 billion this year alone.

The sum – seven times what the scheme aims to save – is the cost of kick-starting the process, which aims to replace whole tranches of management by giving GPs extra responsibilities.

All ten strategic health authorities and 152 primary care trusts are set to be scrapped.

GPs’ consortiums will then take control of the £105 billion health budget.

First year spending is expected to be the most severe as the project is kick started, but analysts expect much more funding to be set aside for the years afterwards.

The revelation of the price tag is severely problematic for the health secretary, who promised to cut management costs by 46% over the next four years, saving £220 million this year and £850 million by 2014.

The NHS has been ring-fenced from cuts, but all the spending for managerial restructuring will have to come off the front line, leaving Mr Lansley susceptible to the charge that the coalition government is pursuing ideological change over health outcomes.