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Editor’s blog Wednesday 21 July 2010: Inconvenient truths and rational analyses will out

Good morning.

Today sees a plethora of new entries into the august ledger of Things That Are Not Surprising.

Mark Britnell, former DH commissioning czar and now KPMG global health supremo tells the BBC that halting provider reconfiguration was an unwise, short-termist and politically-motivated move by the government: "Elapsed time costs money. My real fear is that, whilst we're still talking about making these clinical changes, we're wasting the opportunity to produce quicker clinical benefits for patients. It's a pretty big job to get clinical change bedded into the NHS. My understanding is that many of these plans are good to go.

"There was a sense of disappointment when the announcement was made - particularly in London and the North West of England, where clinicians feel they have been making good progress. Since then, people have regrouped. I don't think any permanent damage has been done to sensible reconfiguration proposals."

Dr David Jenner of NHS Alliance tells E-Health Insider that IT / data management “is one area where a consortia may look at outsourcing to the independent sector, as what we currently get from the NHS is pretty rubbish. I think the independent sector can deliver on that and the big HMO companies are already circling GPs to sell their wares - just like the drug companies were to GPs ten years ago."

The National Audit Office predicts that the Treasury’s value-for-money programme won’t save money as predicted: “It is unlikely that departments will achieve the government-wide target of £35 billion of annual savings, which fully meet the Comprehensive Spending Review criteria, in 2010-11."

Health economists Zac Cooper and John Van Reenen of the LSE write in Public Finance that “the wholesale transfer of purchasing power to GPs is too much and too fast. …  In the long term, giving GPs purchasing power might very well work, but it needs to be trialled, tested and piloted … At the moment, when funds are tight, this big a shift of purchasing power to an untested system is an extraordinary gamble given that we know that large-scale shake-ups typically cost substantial time and money – something in short supply over the next few years."

And if all of that failed to make a wry smile play around the corners of your well-chiselled features, then this column from The Independent's consistently good-value Hamish McRae should emphasise the urgency of the situation nicely.