Intended for healthcare professionals


Achieving Nicholson challenge requires fundamental rethink on NHS, conference hears

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 15 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4175
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The small changes introduced to the NHS by the Health and Social Care Act don’t come close to justifying the two years that were spent arguing over it, the Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell told a conference in London on 13 June. Dorrell, a former health secretary and now chairman of the health select committee, said that when the history books were written the act would not feature large. “It will be seen as having made little difference,” he said.

Of far greater importance was the challenge of delivering healthcare on a flat budget, not just for this parliament but for the next as well. The so called “Nicholson challenge” of making efficiency savings of £15bn (€18bn; $23bn) to £20bn between 2011 and 2014—which Dorrell prefers to formulate as 4% annual efficiency gains for four successive years—was the real issue, he told participants at a conference organised by the market oriented think tank Reform and sponsored by the information technology firm McKesson.

Historically, NHS demand had risen …

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