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Government Response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee Report into the Impact of the Spending Review on Health and Social Care

(First Report of Session 2016–17)

On 19 July 2016, the House of Commons Health Select Committee published, Impact of the Spending Review on health and social care (HC 139). The report followed an inquiry by the Committee, which sought evidence from the Secretary of State for Health along with other witnesses, including NHS England, NHS Improvement, think tanks such as the King’s Fund and various representatives from both the NHS and local government.

The Government has carefully considered the Committee’s report and the issues that it raises, and this paper sets out the Government’s response to each of the conclusions and recommendations.

The report correctly identifies the significant challenges facing the NHS over the next few years. There is a clear plan for responding to these challenges, which is made up of four key components:

  • Extra investment in the Spending Review for the NHS (see section 2.5), and freeing up local government to spend more on adult social care (see section 2.4).
  • Restoring financial discipline in the short term, including the publication of Strengthening Financial Performance & Accountability in 2016/171 which sets out a wide-ranging, seven-point set of actions (see section 2.3).
  • Reducing demand for acute care in the longer term as set out in the Five Year Forward View2. NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with local areas as to how they can moderate activity growth by about 1% on a sustainable basis (see section 2.6).
  • Promoting efficiency and productivity in the provider sector – building on the work of Lord Carter3, which has identified large variations in efficiency across non-specialist English acute hospitals, and controlling cost pressures, for example, by applying the 1% pay cap, renegotiation of the community and pharmacy contract, and controls to cull spiralling agency spending (see section 2.6).

Section 2 of this paper responds to the overall conclusions of the Committee then considers in more detail the individual recommendations contained in the wider report.