The extreme winter weather and rising number of serious flu cases will not thwart attempts to make savings in the NHS, the head of the health service has told Public Finance (PF).
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson insisted the recent outbreak of flu and freezing conditions over the Christmas period would not prevent the NHS from getting the ball rolling as it starts to make the £20 billion of efficiency savings required between 2011 and 2014.
He told PF: “The latest financial information that we have from the NHS indicates that we will deliver absolutely our financial targets for this year. [This flu] will have no effect. We’ve planned it.”
Mr Nicholson added that the costs of dealing with flu during the winter were not separate from the yearly running costs of the NHS.
His comments came as interim chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies revealed a further 11 people had died from flu in the UK during the past week, bringing the winter total to 50.
Ms Davies claimed the NHS was “coping well” with the outbreak and there were enough vaccinations available for the high risk groups.
Mr Nicholson also revealed that only “about 20 per cent” of frontline health care workers had been vaccinated against flu this year. This was slightly higher than last year but nevertheless a “disappointing figure”, he said.
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