Cut the fat to improve NHS
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David Cameron promised before the general election that the NHS would be spared cuts. However, the government have said it that it needs to make £20 billion of savings by 2014. To some this seems to be a broken promise. It is, however, part of a genuine effort to bring much needed financial and structural reform. It is widely consented that the NHS is hugely inefficient. In the past we have seen Labour governments pump masses of money into it but because of its inherent structural problems, the money just hasn’t reached patients. The Con-Lib government is proposing a restructuring effort that should cut expenditure on bureaucracy and increase expenditure on patient care. The existing NHS structure relies heavily on Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). These are bureaucratic-administrative bodies that control around 80% of the entire NHS budget. The government is planning to essentially delete this PCT class and give its responsibilities to GPs. Though this will cost £1 billion, it will save a great deal more in the long run in saved wages. The government has predicted that £5 billion will be saved by 2015 in a reduction in staff alone. The money saved from not paying these administrators can therefore be spent more directly on health care. The argument against this is that GPs will reemploy those former PCT workers to do the same administrative duties. However, GPs have an understanding of what is required in their specific area. They will therefore only need to employ the optimum amount of administrators. This will make the NHS’s administrative capabilities more streamlined, localised and cost-efficient. The government is also proposing to put an independent board in the position of highest authority over the NHS instead of the Department of Health. By doing so, the NHS will no longer be able to be used as a political tool as it has in the past.
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