‘Appalling’ 17% rise in NHS management costs

HEALTH campaigners last night labelled the 17% increase in NHS Suffolk’s management costs as “appalling”.

NHS Suffolk, the county’s primary care trust, revealed in its annual report yesterday that its management costs have risen from �14million in 2008/09 to �16.4m in 2009/10.

This increase comes just weeks after it was reported that the latest management costs increased for the three other health organisations in the county, Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust, the East of England Strategic Health Authority, and Ipswich Hospital.

NHS Suffolk chiefs claim this rise is down to investment decisions made in 2008 and added that there is a strong commitment to reduce costs. However campaigners said they are not exercising any restraint.

Prue Rush, a health campaigner, said: “I do not think they are playing fair. How can they think they can put management costs up that much while we are knee-deep in recession? They are not exercising restraint in management costs. They seem to think the recession doesn’t mean them as well.

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“I think even with the GPs doing the practice-based commissioning [as indicated in the government’s planned health reforms], there are still going to be managers and I think it will spread management costs a lot wider.”

Mike Ninnmey, a councillor at Suffolk Coastal District Council, said: “We were told that the reorganisation from Suffolk Coastal primary care trust to east PCT, would significantly save management costs. This was emphasised more when it changed into NHS Suffolk but actually per head, it is increasing. It has increased by nearly 18% and that figure is appalling.”

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Julian Herbert, director of finance of NHS Suffolk, explained that management costs applies to the cost of running healthcare, including the cost of medical and nursing staff who provide advice and support to NHS Suffolk.

He said: “Our management costs rose in 09/10 by �1.1m in our commissioning arm and �1.3m in our provider arm. “The decisions to invest in management resource were made in 2008 when we were in a very different financial situation and at a time when the commissioning arm was responding to world class commissioning and the provider arm was planning to become a stand alone organisation.

“In our commissioning arm, which is already the lowest cost in the East of England area, we are on track to deliver �0.7m savings this year and a further �1.4m over the next two years.

“Suffolk Community Healthcare is reducing management costs by �1m this year.

“We remain determined to deliver value for money for every NHS pound spent.”

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