Conservatives told how to cut NHS red tape to free up £4 billion
Health is one of only two budgets the Opposition has guaranteed would be spared the axe if it took power and Mr Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said reducing bureaucracy was the key.
Spiralling running costs of primary care trusts, the £1.94 billion-a-year price tag for health-related quangos and the bills for Whitehall and Strategic Health Authority operations would all face the squeeze.
At least £850 million would be saved by taking PCT and quango budgets back to the level of six years ago – at which point Labour already thought there were potential savings of £750 million according to their own calculations.
The Tories, meeting in Manchester for their annual conference, said those budgets were in direct control by ministers meaning they could give a ”concrete commitment to cut them by a third”.
Mr Lansley said further savings would be found by scrapping some Whitehall imposed targets and returning powers over budgets and out-of-hours care to GPs.
He backed an assessment by NHS chief executive David Nicholson that savings of between £15-20 billion needed to be found between 2011-14 but said the Tories would ”go much further in slashing wasteful bureaucracy in the NHS hierarchy”.
”Labour have made expensive commitments on the NHS with no price tag. In contrast, we are determined to identify how we will save money before we spend it.
”To make the NHS successful we must devolve decision making closer to patients. In doing so we’ll save substantial sums of money.
”The NHS must be well managed but that’s not expensive bureaucracy, it’s about lean and good-quality management.
”Labour has allowed wasteful spending on bureaucracy to spiral. A Conservative government would cut it right back. We are determined to shift NHS funds from the back office to doctors and nurses on the front line.”