The Health Select Committee is to review the progress of the NHS in meeting the “daunting” Nicholson Challenge to make £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014-15.
The phrase “Nicholson Challenge” was coined by committee chairman Stephen Dorrell at last year’s HSJ summit to describe NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson’s call for the service to make year on year efficiency gains of 4 per cent for the next four years.
In a report published last December, the committee concluded “the scale of the challenge is daunting and the risks of non-delivery are significant”.
Mr Dorrell, a former health secretary, has previously told HSJ he believes the Nicholson challenge should be the priority for the NHS ahead of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s reform programme.
The committee will hold sessions in September and October, when it will take evidence on the Department of Health’s annual report and accounts due to be published in July.
In the meantime, the committee is seeking current information on how health and social care bodies are addressing the need to make efficiency gains.
The National Audit Office will prepare 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 DH and the NHS plan to monitor progress.
The committee will also conduct its own survey of all social care authorities in England on issues including levels and sources of funding, changes to service provision and plans for efficiency savings in the current year.
It is planned that the NAO memorandum and the results of the survey will be published in advance of its evidence sessions in September. The final report is expected by the end of October.