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Nicholson Challenge

12 May 2011

Last December the Health Committee published a report on expenditure on health and social care in the light of the Spending Review settlement.

The settlement requires the NHS to make year-on-year efficiency gains of 4% for the next four years (the Nicholson Challenge). The Committee concluded that “the scale of the challenge is daunting and the risks of non-delivery are significant”.

The Committee is today announcing how it intends to review the progress that is being made towards the delivery of this challenge.

The Department of Health is expected to publish its annual report and accounts in July. The Committee will take evidence on this report in September and October with the intention of publishing a new report on health and social care spending before the end of October. The Committee expects that the principal focus of this report will be a review of the progress which is being made towards the delivery of the Nicholson Challenge.

To prepare for that inquiry, we are seeking current information on how health and social care bodies are addressing the need to make efficiency gains.

We have asked the National Audit Office to assist us, and they have agreed to provide us with a memorandum on how efficiency targets have been set across individual Trusts and other  health bodies, how those bodies plan to meet those targets locally and how the Department of Health and the NHS plan to monitor progress.

Separately, the Committee will conduct its own survey of all social care authorities in England on, amongst other things, levels and sources of funding, changes to service provision and plans for efficiency savings in the current year.

The Committee intends to publish both the NAO memorandum and the results of its survey of social care authorities in advance of its evidence sessions in September.