Agenda for Change

Health written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to increase the resources made available to the NHS to support the implementation of (a) Agenda for Change, (b) the consultants' contract and (c) the general medical services contract in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08; what the overspend was on each of these contracts in (A) 2004-05 and (B) 2005-06; and whether she anticipates spending on these contracts exceeding their funding envelope in 2006-07.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton The Minister of State, Department of Health

We have no plans to further increase the funding already made available for the implementation of agenda for change, which rises from £950 million in 2005-06 to £1,390 million in 2006-07 and to £1,780 million in 2007-08. Estimates based on a sample of trusts in 2005 suggested that in the first 12 months earnings costs exceeded those forecast by around £120 million or 0.5 per cent. of the agenda for change paybill, with at least a further £100 million in additional hours and leave costs. Actual costs for 2006-07 will depend on experience of the operation of the new Agenda for Change pay progression arrangements.

We invested additional recurrent funding to meet the costs of the consultant contract over the three-year period from 2003-04 to 2005-06, and have no plans to further increase the funding already made available. Representations from trusts in late 2004 suggested that the costs of the consultant contract had exceeded plans by around £150 million, mainly due to higher levels of programmed activities. We uplifted the tariff for 2005-06 by this amount, although evidence obtained subsequently suggested an excess cost of the order of £90 million rather than £150 million.

The cost of the general medical services contract in 2006-07 is currently estimated to be £7.8 billion. This is an increase of £0.1 billion over the previous year. Information on 2007-08 costs and funding is not yet available.

Information on the general medical services contract spend, based on actual audited figures for 2004-05, indicates an overspend of £155 million. Current forecasts, based on primary care trust returns, indicate an overspend in 2005-06 of £252 million. Latest forecasts available for 2006-07 suggest that primary care trusts will manage overall spend within their allocations.

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