Private Eye

Tour Dates




Staying Alive




Press Info

Interview Feature

Press Quotes

Tour Reviews



Log in

March 30, 2014

Why is NHS money handed back to the Treasury when patients are suffering?
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:39 am

From: Noel Plumridge

Sent: 26 March 2014 21:17

To: Strobes Subject: Letter for publication



“Not only has Nicholson’s NHS spent all the money (£110bn a year)…” [MD, Eye 1362]


If only.  Last year the NHS in England underspent by a cool £1.4bn.  This was no flash in the (bed)pan: in the two previous years the NHS returned £2.1bn (2011-12) and £1.9bn (2010-11), unspent, to a grateful Treasury.


The principle of the so-called “Nicholson challenge” to the NHS – save £20bn without anyone noticing – is that savings should be re-invested in the NHS.  An older, sicker population uses the NHS more; new drugs and treatments cost money.  So where’s the re-investment in GP practices, hospitals and medical science?  Hah.  Annual savings of five per cent or more, wrung out of hospital and community budgets, are simply hoovered up by George Osborne,


Following the Lansley reorganisation, this elegant annual outcome – it allows government to claim NHS budgets remain intact – is magically assured by the foundation trust regime (“strengthen the balance sheet”) and the clinical commissioning group regime (“keep plenty in reserve”).  Look out for government, sometime soon, trumpeting another NHS “surplus” for the year just ending… as if failure to spend budgets voted by Parliament were cause for celebration


Noel Plumridge