The TaxPayers’ Alliance has today produced a useful survey of London’s health spending and the Strategic Health Authorities that oversee it (see their report titled Flatlining).
Since Labour came to power it has doubled health spending in London from about £6 billion in 1997/8 to £12 billion in 2005/6. To give a feel for the size of this number the Mayor is spending £3 billion in the current financial year. This would be great if we all thought that we were getting twice as much health care. The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s report points the blame for this lack of performance at the 5 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) that oversee this spending in London.
Ealing is covered by the North West London SHA and local Conservative politician Richard Barnes serves as a non-exec, hopefully protecting our interests. Like all these bits of the NHS they have their own website.
You can see their last annual report on the website too. This is typical of the breed (expensive, glossy, full colour, stuffed with lots of pictures) and as such it fails to tell you anything you might want to know. In the last year for which figures are available they spent £202 million of which £12 million was spent on themselves, ie their offices in the West End and £100K a year salaries for their executives. They list their activities but give no breakdown of how the £190 million they spend on these activities is broken down. We have no way on knowing if any of this spending is useful to us.
No need to worry though Pat Hewitt, our popular Secretary for Secretary of State for Health, is going to make these five bodies more responsive to the people of London by amalgamating them into one super SHA. So they will spend £1 billion out of the £12 billion that gets spent on health in London. They will spend it on target setting and giving the health professionals on the front line a hard time. When they have finished they will refuse to give us any information about how they have spent the cash. Great!