Spending cuts are possible

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The chairman of the St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said tackling wasteful spending should remain a key NHS target.

Bill Guest told how the local NHS group had made the most of its comparatively modest £270m budget this year by cutting spending on estates and medicines.

He claimed that, if the same principles were applied to the NHS nationwide, the health service’s £30bn budget shortfall could be significantly reduced.

Mr Guest said: “The NHS is short of money. That’s no secret. But there’s still a lot of wastage in the NHS, which needs to be eradicated.

“Only when you look carefully and realise the scale of the wastage do you realise that that money could be used on improving frontline services.

“We reduced our spending on estates and medicine management from £39m to £36m and we’re only a small CCG.

“The government is spending £126m on medicines alone. There’s a lot of money that could be saved there - but the only way to do that is to do it together.”

Mr Guest, who acted as chairman of the St Helens CCG from its launch in 2012, is set to step down this month.

He will be replaced by Geoffrey Appleton.