NHS ‘worse value for money after investment’

By Hannah Brenton

Ten years of Labour investment in the NHS has decreased the service’s ‘value for money’, according to a report.

The Commons committee of public accounts found that the effect of each pound invested in the NHS had decreased year-on-year as productivity declined.

Labour increased investment in the NHS by 70% over ten years to reach £102 billion in 2010-11.

The increase in funding saw better services for the public, especially shorter waiting times and better outcomes for coronary and cancer patients – but at a high price.

National pay agreements did not improve consultants’ performance and hospitals were more concerned with reaching national targets than providing better services for less, the report concluded.

“While consultants have had significant pay rises, their overall productivity has continued to fall,” the report stated.

The findings come as the NHS faces a major shake-up under government proposals which would place more power in the hands of local GPs and scrap primary care trusts (PCTs).

The service will be asked to make efficiency savings of £20 billion each year.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said to make those savings the government would have to reverse the decline in productivity seen under Labour.

“Over the last ten years, the productivity of NHS hospitals has been in almost continuous decline. Over the same period, the amount spent on the NHS increased from £60 billion to £102 billion a year,” she said.

“The quality of the health service has improved as a result of this increase in spending. But the taxpayer has been getting less for each pound spent.

“The Department of Health (DOH) will now have to work to reverse the trend of falling productivity if it is to meet its ambitious revised target of achieving, by the end of 2014-15, savings of up to £20 billion each year.”