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Watchdog questions £6bn savings

The National Audit Office (NAO) has questioned claims by ministers that the NSH made about £6bn in productivity gains last year, saying that the actual figure is likely to have been much smaller.

The body said: “The NHS made a substantial amount of efficiency savings in 2011-12, according to a report published today by the National Audit Office.” However, the NAO cautioned “there is limited assurance that all the reported savings were achieved.”

The report states that chief executives of primary care trusts are required to confirmthey are content with the accuracy of their savings data, but the Department of Health “does not validate or gain independent assurance about the data reported”.

The NAO said it’s own review of the Department's analysis of national pay, activity and other data substantiated a total of £3.4bn of NHS efficiency savings.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The NHS has made a good start in making substantial efficiency savings in the first year of the four-year period when it needs to achieve savings of up to £20bn. To build on these savings and keep pace with the growing demand for healthcare, it will need to change the way health services are provided and to do so more quickly."