The author of a report on NHS efficiency was not pressured into putting a headline savings figure on his initial findings, a government minister has said.

Lord Carter’s interim report on provider productivity identified several areas where it said the NHS could save £5bn a year by 2019-20.

Lord Carter

Lord Carter’s interim report on provider productivity identified several areas where the NHS could save £5bn a year

John Warrington, the Department of Health deputy director of procurement policy and research, said at a conference earlier this month that Lord Carter “was reluctant” to put a precise figure in the report “but was encouraged by ministers and others” to do so.

However, Lord Prior, minister for NHS productivity, told HSJ no pressure was placed on Lord Carter to include a headline savings figure.

“I don’t think he’s that kind of person, to bow to pressure,” he said last week.

Asked if Lord Carter was told to put a figure in the report, Lord Prior said: “No, I don’t think so.”

HSJ asked the DH to put Mr Warrington’s claim to Lord Carter. He said: “Whilst I am reluctant to set detailed targets, I believe from the data so far available and from what I’ve seen from visiting hospitals, that savings up to £5bn per year could be achieved.”

Speaking at a Healthcare Financial Management Association event, Mr Warrington also said that after the general election, the health secretary gave Lord Carter’s team just three weeks’ notice to publish their findings to date.

He added: “Jeremy Hunt also asked if he could talk to every single trust in the NHS and agree a savings figure, just so you get a sense of the pressure coming from ministers to deliver.”

HSJ also asked the DH about this claim but the department had not responded in time for publication.

Lord Carter’s team have been working with 22 trusts to develop an adjusted treatment index, which will measure and compare efficiency across the provider sector.